TV & Movies

Helen Mirren Rails Against Authoritarians Telling Writers They Can Only Tell Stories About Their Own Race Or Religion

Helen Mirren thinks it is “ridiculous” that writers are being told to stay in their lanes.

The Oscar-winning actress has railed against the idea that writers can only tell stories about their own race or religion after the so-called “Jewface” row over her new movie Golda.

“It’s more frightening for a writer to be told they are not allowed to write about subjects with which they don’t have an immediate DNA connection,” Mirren told the Radio Times. “I imagine it must be very alarming. And ridiculous.”

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Mirren was responding to a statement from Golda writer Nicholas Martin, who said there is a “creeping authoritarianism” in the entertainment industry, leading to writers being told they “cannot do this or that.” He told the Radio Times: “Am I just supposed to write about middle-aged men living in south London?”

Neither Mirren nor Martin are Jewish, meaning they have been criticized for their involvement in Golda, which depicts the life of Golda Meir, the fourth Prime Minister of Israel.

British actress Maureen Lipman was among those who voiced opposition, telling the Jewish Chronicle last year: “I’m sure [Mirren] will be marvelous, but it would never be allowed for Ben Kingsley to play Nelson Mandela. You just couldn’t even go there.”

Martin said: “I don’t feel like all this discussion about Gentiles playing Jews is helpful … Helen’s job was to portray Golda authentically, which Golda’s family would say she has. A leading Israeli historian said that Helen is “more Golda than Golda”.”

Guy Nattiv, the Israeli-Jewish director of Golda, also defended Mirren. “I never felt that I compromised the authenticity [of the film] by using Helen, who can move from being funny and soft, like a grandmother, to being fierce and ruthless like a politician,” he said.

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