On FOX’s drama “Touch” — which concludes its first season with a two-hour finale on Thursday, May 31 — Bodhi Elfman pays Avram, an Hasidic Jew who may have answers to the questions that troubled father Martin Bohm (Kiefer Sutherland) has about his emotionally challenged 11-year-old son, Jake (David Mazouz), who seems to be able to detect world-spanning connections through mysterious numbers.
Series creator Tim Kring appears to have made a connection of his own by casting Elfman in the part.
“I’ve been working on a character like this on my own,” Elfman tells Zap2it, “kind of an Hasidic Jew out of New York. it was something that I had been playing with for a while. Then, when the meeting came up for this type of thing, it happened very fast, just came at me.
Asked why he was working on this sort of character, Elfman says, “I was traveling back and forth to New York a bit. My wife [actress Jenna Elfman] was there working on a show. I was seeing a lot of the Hasidic Jews, and I became really interested. I’m Jewish, but I live in L.A, and I was born and raised in L.A., but I just became interested in them, the nature of their integration in society but still staying sort of insular.
“I ended up watching some documentaries and reading some books. As an actor, I’m always interested in different things, different parts, characters and creations. I was working on it anyway, and then the part came, it just really slipped out. I never had an experience where, when I got the script, it was just a matter of memorizing lines, and the character was bubbling out.”
A great deal of “Touch” is about the nature of synchronicity, when seemingly unrelated events turn out to be connected in meaningful ways — a favorite theme of Kring.
“To add to the whole synchronicity thing,” says Elfman, “the first A.D. (assistant director) on the set is from the same town that my grandfather came from in Russia. He sounds just like my grandfather — that was my first several minutes on set. I think everything happens around Tim, because he’s aware and attuned to it.”
Elfman was also interested in making Avram a dynamic individual.
“I’m not an old man,” he says. “I’m not a gray, old withered man. I’m a vibrant young Jew. so, I think it’s great when they show that sort of character. I think it will come up in the season finale — you’ll see next Thursday — where I’m meeting with my council. Everybody there is twice as old as me, but I’m running the meeting. I love it.
“It’s fun to look at another idea. I mean, when you look at me, I’m a sexy Jew. There’s just no way of getting around it. I worked very hard to keep my guy very vibrant and stylish. You should look at the pleat in my pants. I’m telling you, watch my character. He’s got a little kick in his step.”
As to the response from friends and fans, Elfman says, “A lot of people dig that this guy, Avram, has some sort of connection to Jake, and they want to know what it is. I obviously recognize Jake as having some sort of power or ability or having a special place.
“In the first episode I appear in, ‘Music of the Spheres,’ Jake touches my hand and gives me a diamond [that fell on the floor]. He never touches anyone. That got a lot of responses from viewers, mainly through Twitter, wanting to know what was going on and what my place was on the show — which I don’t have all the answers to. I only know what’s in front of me.
“And I’ve been sending out a couple of emails to people I know, over the years that I’ve worked, letting them know that I’m on the show. Jewish writer friends have gotten back ot me, saying they’re happy that I’m representing the Tribe. It’s true. I think they like it.”
“Touch” has been renewed for another season, and Elfman is hopeful that Avram will be back.
“I talked to Tim about it after the show wrapped,” he says, “and it would be very presumptuous of me to say, but I can tell you, I don’t die at the end of the season. My character has many questions left that need to be answered, that only my character knows the answer to. It could happen.
“Tim seems to think that’s a possibility, but I wouldn’t dare way that it’s going to happen. All I can tell you is, ‘Why not?'”