• Helen Mirren is an iconic actress
  • She will be starring in the new film 'Golda'
  • THIS is her response to critics

Helen Mirren has hardly put a foot wrong in her entire career, and now she is sharing her thoughts on playing a Jewish character as a non-Jewish actress. The 78-year-old Oscar-winner has been facing criticism surrounding her role as former Prime Minister of Israel Golda Meir in the film 'Golda'. Some have expressed opposition to Helen portraying a Jewish person. As always in today's climate, there will be one or two people that are never happy.

Mirren herself told the 'Radio Times' that "the whole issue of casting has exploded out of the water fairly recently". "I’ve had other Jewish roles, but not an uber-Jewish role like Golda Meir. I did tell the director that I’m not Jewish, in case he thought I was."

Helen is just an actress playing a role

At the end of the day, she thinks it is ridiculous that writers are being told to stay in their lanes. The Oscar-winning actress has railed against the idea that writers can only tell stories about their own race or religion after the so-called "Jewface" backlash over her new role in the movie.

"It’s more frightening for a writer to be told they are not allowed to write about subjects with which they don’t have an immediate DNA connection," Mirren told the 'Radio Times'. "I imagine it must be very alarming. And ridiculous." 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". 

Opposing screenwriter, David Baddiel, weighed in on the controversy writing to 'The Guardian' saying this: "Primarily, 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.'"

Are actors being overlooked? 

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."

Also interesting:

Helen defended 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." The writer of the film, Nicholas Martin told the 'Radio Times' that this was not a productive topic.

"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’." He continued, "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?"

For many, that is a fair question, since artists are supposed to explore the unknown with their art. What do you think? Should actors and writers be limited by their race and religion?