Matisyahu Says Hasidic Beliefs Stalled His Acting Career
The concept of religious sacrifice is familiar to anyone who’s ever attended a church service, but for musician and actor Matisyahu, devotion to his faith forced him to make a decision that derailed his career completely — at least for awhile.
Speaking to New York Magazine for an interview promoting his new film ‘The Possession,’ Matisyahu recalled how adhering to Hasidic Jewish bylaws kept him from pursuing acting roles. Looking back to 2001, when he adopted the lifestyle, he said, “In those days, there was a time when I wouldn’t leave my house with my glasses on so that I couldn’t see the hot girls on the street billboards. I wouldn’t shake someone’s hand. I wouldn’t stage dive because women might touch me.”
Ultimately, he said, this decision forced him to focus on his music. “It was easier to keep that in mind as a musician. You can just decide not to play on a Friday night. As an actor, there’s no way you can make those kinds of demands on a studio.”
More recently, Matisyahu has begun making changes, shaving his Hasidic beard and locks and explaining in a post on his website, “When I started becoming religious 10 years ago it was a very natural and organic process. … I felt that in order to become a good person I needed rules — lots of them — or else I would somehow fall apart. I am reclaiming myself. Trusting my goodness and my divine mission.”
He went on to promise “an amazing year filled with music of rebirth” and concluded, “For those concerned with my naked face, don’t worry…you haven’t seen the last of my facial hair.” His latest album, ‘Spark Seeker,’ was released July 17.