Helen Mirren on Golda Meir role backlash: ‘Terrible unfairness’ in acting

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Helen Mirren is addressing the backlash over her casting in the upcoming biopic about former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir.

Mirren, 76, was called out by actress Maureen Lipman in January, who asserted that a Jewish actress should play the role of Meir.

“The Queen” actress — who is not Jewish — broke her silence and told the Daily Mail that the ethnicity question was brought up in casting.

“It was certainly a question that I had, before I accepted the role,” Mirren said.

Meir was the first woman to hold top office in the Jewish state’s government. Mirren added that Meir “is a very important person in Israeli history.”

“Golda” is set to premiere later this year and will chronicle her role as Prime Minister during the Yom Kippur War in 1973. Meir died in 1978 from lymphoma.

The L’Oreal Paris spokesmodel then explained that she spoke with “Golda” director Guy Nattiv about the casting issue.

Helen Miren
Mirren discussed the backlash in an interview with the Daily Mail.
Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

“I said, ‘Look Guy, I’m not Jewish, and if you want to think about that, and decide to go in a different direction, no hard feelings. I will absolutely understand,’” Mirren added. “But he very much wanted me to play the role, and off we went.”

“I do believe it is a discussion that has to be had – it’s utterly legitimate. You know, if someone who’s not Jewish can’t play Jewish, does someone who’s Jewish play someone who’s not Jewish?” the Oscar winner asked.

She continued, “There’s a lot of terrible unfairness in my profession.”

Lipman told Variety last month that while the “F9” star is a “good actress,” “ethnicity should be a priority” when casting roles.

“Helen will be great. Good actress, sexy and intelligent. Looks the part. [But] my opinion, and that’s what it is, a mere opinion, is that if the character’s race, creed or gender drives or defines the portrayal then the correct — for want of an umbrella [term] — ethnicity should be a priority,” the “Pianist” star said.

Helen Miren
“It was certainly a question that I had, before I accepted the role,” Mirren said.
Getty Images

Mirren discussed Lipman’s statements with the Daily Mail and said she’s okay with her sentiments, “I very much respect Maureen,” she said. “And I love her as an actress, absolutely. I’d love to bump into her and sit and have a cup of tea and talk about it.”

“My only real fear is if I’m really bad as Golda… in which case, I’ll be toast,” she concluded.

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