Casting for Golda Meir film sparks ‘Jew-face’ debate

i24NEWS

3 min read
Helen Mirren poses for photographers upon arrival at the 74th international film festival, Cannes, southern France, July 7, 2021.
AP Photo/Brynn AndersonHelen Mirren poses for photographers upon arrival at the 74th international film festival, Cannes, southern France, July 7, 2021.

Helen Mirren plays Golda Meir in the upcoming biopic of the late-Israeli leader

Actor Helen Mirren will play Israel’s former prime minister Golda Meir in the late-Jewish leader’s upcoming biopic, sparking controversy over the fact that Mirren is not Jewish.

In the film ‘Golda,’ Dame Mirren - most recently known for her role in ‘The Queen’ - will be unrecognizable in playing Meir, who was the first woman to head Israel’s government. 

Some in the Jewish community voiced disapproval over the film’s casting of Meir, in a contentious issue that comes amid a cultural revolution in the fair representation of minorities in Hollywood. 

“There are people who feel that just as white people shouldn’t play black people in films… that transexual roles should be played by genuine transexuals, so do they believe Jews should only be played by Jewish actors,” i24NEWS correspondent Jonathan Sacerdoti said.

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Jewish actor Maureen Lipman said Mirren should not have been asked to play the role because “the Jewishness of Meir’s character is so integral.”

“[Lipman] thinks there is something specifically Jewish about Golda Meir that requires a Jew to play here,” Sacerdoti said.

However, others in the Jewish community defended the Academy Award winner. 

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Celebrated Jewish writer and director Patrick Marber said that he dislikes the idea of so-called “lived experience” because it contradicts the “very nature of what it means to be an actor,” Sacerdoti explained.

The i24NEWS envoy suggested that the complaints stem from the idea that Jewish people feel like they “don’t count” when racism is being targeted.

“If there are debates about black parts being played by non-black actors, or gay parts being played by non-gay actors, then why shouldn’t the same logic be extended to Jews?”

“But perhaps they are overextending it,” Sacerdoti said.

“In reality, perhaps these things aren’t always necessary for all minorities.”