Helen Mirren addresses Golda controversy: ‘I told the director that I’m not Jewish’
Mirren has spoken of her dismay at the backlash to her casting as Golda Meir, former prime minister of Israel, in forthcoming film Golda
Helen Mirren has spoken of her dismay at the controversy sparked by her casting as Golda Meir, former prime minister of Israel .
The actor, and the biopic of Meir in which she stars, faced considerable backlash as Mirren herself is not Jewish, and heavy prosthetics were employed in her transformation.
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Speaking to Radio Times magazine, Mirren said: “I’ve had other Jewish roles [in Woman in Gold and The Debt], but not an uber-Jewish role like Golda Meir. I did tell [director] Guy [Nattiv] that I’m not Jewish, in case he thought I was.”
Her casting was prompted by Meir’s grandson, Gideon, expressing the hope that Mirren would play the role; her subsequent involvement, said writer Nicholas Martin, was crucial in “getting the project going”.
“The whole issue of casting has exploded out of the water fairly recently,” said Mirren, in response to criticism from assorted actors and writers including Maureen Lipman and David Baddiel.
Writing for the Guardian, Baddiel argued that at a time when it is now commonplace assumption a non-Black actor will not play a Black character, Jews are not afforded the same protections as other marginalised groups.
“Primarily,” wrote Baddiel, “it’s about Jews being assumed, antisemitically, to be successful and privileged and powerful, and therefore not in need of the protections that identity politics affords other minorities. In the case of casting, that falls down as: ‘Well, Jews are everywhere in showbiz, so Jewish actors don’t need that leg-up.’”
He continued: “It’s odd, then, that so many Jewish parts are not cast with Jewish actors, even when the characters and storylines are very Jewish indeed. Why, if there are so many Jews in showbiz, is Gary Oldman cast as Herman Mankiewicz, or Rachel Brosnahan as Mrs Maisel? Why did the makers of recent BBC drama Ridley Road, about antisemitism in London after the war, have to scrabble around, after I pointed out the lack of Jews in the cast, saying that the female actor playing the main character had just discovered that she had one Jewish grandfather? Why are the four main characters of the only recognisably Jewish sitcom on British TV, Friday Night Dinner, all played by non-Jews, apart from Tom Rosenthal who has said publicly that he doesn’t consider himself Jewish? If there are so many Jewish actors, they must all be quite shit, as they really aren’t getting the Jewish jobs.”
Mirren went on to defend her acceptance of the role by saying that she had told the director: “‘If that’s an issue, I’ll step away, no problem.’ But he said, ‘No, it’s not an issue. I want you to play Golda.’ And off we went.”
Martin told the Radio Times he felt the debate had become an unhealthy one. “I don’t feel like all this discussion about gentiles playing Jews is helpful,” he said. “Helen’s job was to portray Golda authentically, which Golda’s family would say she has. A leading Israeli historian said that Helen is ‘more Golda than Golda’.
“I find it very worrying that there is a creeping authoritarianism in entertainment saying you cannot do this or that. Am I just supposed to write about middle-aged men living in south London?”
"...addresses Golda controversy" like it's the main topic of conversation around the country rather than just a confected idpol "outrage" that's of no interest to anyone other than the twats trying to benefit from writing about it.
Tedious ####ing bollocks as always from the perma-victim stooge Baddiel.