Helen Mirren asks if Jewish actors can play non-Jewish roles after casting outcry

Dame Helen Mirren has broken her silence following outcry over her casting as Golda Meir by questioning whether it means Jewish actors can play non-Jewish roles.

The award-winning actress has been criticized for accepting the lead role in the upcoming biopic about Israel’s first female prime minister because she is not Jewish.

Fellow actress Dame Maureen Lipman said last month that when casting Guy Nattiv-directed Golda, “ethnicity should take precedence” because “the ethnicity or gender of the character determines the role.”

Dame Helen responded to the criticism on Friday night, telling the Daily Mail that questions about her suitability for the role also struck her before accepting it.

The 76-year-old told the newspaper there was “a discussion to be had” about the suitability of certain actors for certain roles.

“It was certainly a question I had before accepting the role. (Meir) is a very important person in Israeli history,” she said.

“I said, ‘Look, 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.’”

However, she added that this casting approach also raises other questions, saying, “You know, if someone who isn’t Jewish can’t play Jewish, then someone who’s Jewish will play someone who’s not Jewish ?


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