Dame Maureen Lipman is questioning the casting of Dame Helen Mirren as former Israel Prime Minister Golda Mier in the new biopic about her life.
The Oscar-winning, 76-year-old, actress -who is not Jewish- will be portraying Israel’s first female PM in the 2022 film, “Golda”.
However, Dame Maureen Lipman, who is Jewish, expressed to The Jewish Chronicle, that she was not comfortable with Dame Mirren playing the Israeli leader, saying the “Jewishness of the character is so integral.”
“I’m sure she [Dame Mirren] will be marvellous, but it would never be allowed for Ben Kingsley to play Nelson Mandela. You just couldn’t even go there,” she told the publication.
Dame Mirren has previously played Jewish characters, appearing as a Mossad agent in the 2010 film “The Debt,” and as a Jewish refugee named Maria Altmann in the 2015 film “Women In Gold.”
Dame Lipman, on the other hand, played the role of Mother in Roman Polanski’s 2002 holocaust memoir film, “The Pianist.”
Golda Meir, who was known as “the grand old woman Israeli politics,” became Israel’s first female Prime Minister in 1969.
Meir’s story has been recognised by many and is the subject of many fictionalised portrayals, both on stage and on the screen.
First look at Helen Mirren as former Israeli prime minister Golda Meir in the biopic GOLDA from Bleecker Street pic.twitter.com/5DsgeYgucd
— Erik Anderson (@awards_watch) November 17, 2021
According to the BBC, Dame Lipman’s questioning of Dame Helen’s “Golda” casting comes after a series of comments made by other actors who criticised what they believed was an inauthentic casting decision.
Many labelling the casting as “Jewface.”
However, Stephen Pollard, editor-at-large of The Jewish Chronicle has taken to social media to defend Dame Mirren.
I adore Maureen Lipman but she couldn’t be more wrong on this. The logic of her position is that the only character any actor can play is themselves.
— Stephen Pollard (@stephenpollard) January 5, 2022
Authentic casting in Hollywood has been lively debated for several years. Many argue that LGBTQ+ and disabled characters should only be played by LGBTQ+ or disabled actors respectively, while others argue that the concept of acting is to portray someone else.
Dame Lipman had already made headlines last December 2022, when she told the BBC that comedy was in danger of being “wiped out” because of cancel culture.