Helen Mirren responds to ‘Jewface’ criticism for portraying Golda Meir
Update: 07 February 2022 17:44 STI
Washington [US]Feb. 7 (ANI): British actress Helen Mirren, who will play Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir in an upcoming biopic, has responded to the casting debate.
According to Variety, “Golda,” which wrapped in December and also stars Camille Cottin, was directed by Israeli filmmaker Guy Nattiv.
Last winter, around the time the film was shooting in London; there was concern over the casting after photographs emerged of Mirren looking drastically different for the role.
Actress Maureen Lipman told Variety in January, “Helen will be awesome. Good actress, sexy and smart. She looks the part. [But] my opinion, and this is what it is, a simple opinion, is that if the character’s race, creed, or gender determines or defines the portrayal, then the correct one, for lack of an umbrella [term]ethnicity should be a priority.”
Mirren declined to comment at the time, however, in an interview with a news outlet last week she reportedly said, “That was definitely a question I had before accepting the role.”
“[Meir] is a very important person in the history of Israel. I said, ‘Listen Guy, I’m not Jewish, and if you want to think about it and decide to go in a different direction, no hard feelings. I will absolutely understand. But he really wanted me to play the part, and we went for it,” Mirren continued.
The actor added, “I think it’s a discussion that needs to happen, it’s completely legitimate. [But] You know, if someone who’s not Jewish can’t play Jewish, does someone who’s Jewish play someone who’s not Jewish?”
Mirren then compared the debate surrounding his casting as Meir to that surrounding the authentic casting of gay characters.
She reportedly said, “I know actors like Ian McKellen would, I think, have a big problem with that. Because then what if you’re a gay actor? Shouldn’t you be able to play roles straight? Is that really a path you wanna go down?”
Discussing the wider debate around genuine casting in more detail, the ‘The Queen’ actress, who won an Oscar for her portrayal of the British monarch, said: “There is a lot of terrible injustice in my profession. If there’s an actor who’s disabled, who’s brilliant but has had very few opportunities, and now a wonderful role comes up for an actor with a disability, all being fair, he or she should get that role.”
She continued: “I’m from Essex. Can a girl from Essex play a woman from Newcastle? I’m sure there are plenty of fabulous girls from there who would object to my portrayal.”
“I respect Maureen a lot. And I adore her as an actress, absolutely. I would love to bump into her, sit down, have a cup of tea and talk about it,” Mirren added. (ANI)