Helen Mirren: Maureen Lipman says Jewish actors should be seen first for Jewish roles as she clarifiescomments

Actor admitted that issue was ‘complicated’ after criticising Mirren

Isobel Lewis
Friday 07 January 2022 08:42 GMT
Maureen Lipman clarifies comments on Helen Mirren playing Jewish politician

Maureen Lipman has clarified her recent comments about Helen Mirren’s casting as a Jewish politician.

Earlier this week, Lipman – who is a vocal opponent of so-called “cancel culture” – criticised the decision to have non-Jewish actor Mirren play former Israeli prime minister Golda Meir in the forthcoming biopic Golda.

“I’m sure she will be marvellous, but it would never be allowed for Ben Kingsley to play Nelson Mandela,” Lipman said. “You just couldn’t even go there.”

Appearing on Good Morning Britain on Thursday (6 January), Lipman said that while she agreed actors should be able to play any part regardless of background, those with similar backgrounds to the character should be considered for the role first.

“Let me not go back on what I actually said, because it’s true to an extent,” she said. “I have nothing against Helen playing it. My query is should the casting directors have looked first, and maybe they did, at Bette Midler or Streisand or Jennifer Connelly or Scarlett Johansson… or Tracey Ullman?”

“It’s a complicated argument… As globalisation gets bigger, casting gets smaller and we’re getting more and more tribal,” she explained.

Helen Mirren as Golda Meir in a first-look image from ‘Golda’
Helen Mirren as Golda Meir in a first-look image from ‘Golda’ (Jasper Wolf/Press)

“It’s a complicated argument… If the religion fires the character, then I honestly think you should look at that group, that gender. If the character is gay, I think you should definitely see the gay actors first. See the Jewish actors first and if it doesn’t work out, fire ahead, go ahead.”

Lipman had initially claimed that she felt Meir should be played by a Jewish actor “because the Jewishness of the character is so integral”.

Additional reporting by Press Association.

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