Casting of Dame Helen Mirren as Israeli PM Golda Meir sparks 'Jewface' row
The British actress, 75, said she was uncomfortable with Mirren playing the Israeli PM, in the latest row over non-Jews playing Jewish figures or characters - a practice labelled as "Jewface" by critics.
In an advert for the film, set during the October War in 1973, Mirren, 76, is seen in prosthetic make-up as Israel's first female prime minister from 1969 to 1974.
"The Jewishness of the character is so integral," Lipman told the Jewish Chronicle.
"I'm sure she will be marvellous but it would never be allowed for Ben Kingsley to play Nelson Mandela. You just couldn't even go there. Perhaps you need to have some sort of panel of people who say this is not acceptable."
The term "Jewface" came to prominence in 2019 when more than 20 Jewish actors and playwrights, including Lipman, signed an open letter criticising the West End musical Falsettos for casting non-Jewish actors in a play about a Jewish family.
The letter accused the play's producers of showing "a startling lack of cultural sensitivity".
Last month, British actress Tamsin Greig said she "probably shouldn't" have played a Jewish mother in Channel 4's hit show Friday Night Dinner because she is a practising Christian.
Just released image: Helen Mirren as Golda Meir in the new feature GOLDA, directed by Oscars-winning Guy Nattiv.— Arash Azizi 🟣 آرش عزیزی (@arash_tehran) November 17, 2021
Camile Cottin, main star of series CALL MY AGENT, is also in the cast.
I understand the film is a fast-paced drama, much of it focused on the Yom Kippur War of 1973 pic.twitter.com/3ENcW686sD
Not everyone, however, agrees with Lipman's comments. Rabbi Jonathan Romain wrote on Twitter Wednesday: "You don't have to be Jewish to play a Jew."
Others have also taken to Twitter to slam Lipman's rebuke of Mirren.
"I adore Maureen Lipman but she couldn't be more wrong on this," said Stephen Pollard, former editor of the Jewish Chronicle, on social media.
"The logic of her position is that the only character any actor can play is themselves," he said.
Mirren, who has previously played Jewish characters, did not comment on the criticism.
She has called Meir a "formidable, intransigent and powerful leader.
"It is a great challenge to portray her at the most difficult moment of her extraordinary life. I only hope I do her justice!"
The Oscar-winning actress said she "wouldn’t be surprised" if she had Jewish roots, and that she is a "believer" in Israel.