15 February 2022

Golda film producer admits to ‘stirring’ Jewish casting controversy

15 February 2022

Film producer Michael Kuhn said he was “stirring” the controversy around whether non-Jewish actors could play Jewish characters in his latest film.

The 73-year-old, who honoured for services to the film industry, said the controversy over his latest picture, Golda, a biopic about Israeli first female PM Golda Meir, was good for publicity.

The lead, the character of Meir, who was Jewish, is played by Dame Helen Mirren.

Golda Meir (Archive/PA) (PA Archive)

Mr Kuhn said he made the confession to the Princess Royal as he collected his CBE at an investiture ceremony at Windsor Castle on Tuesday.

The 73-year-old told the PA news agency: “I just mentioned about the film I’m finishing now with Helen Mirren and she obviously knew about all the controversy there had been with ‘can a non-Jew play a Jew’ and I told her I was stirring it as much as I could for publicity and she seemed quite amused by that.”

Actor Dame Maureen Lipman criticised the casting, the Jewish Chronicle reported.

Dame Helen Mirren portraying Israel’s first female prime minister, Golda Meir (Jasper Wolf/Assemble publicity/PA) (PA Media)

She said: “With that I disagree, because the Jewishness of the character is so integral”, according to the paper.

“I’m sure she (Mirren) will be marvellous, but it would never be allowed for Ben Kingsley to play Nelson Mandela.

“You just couldn’t even go there.”

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