Maureen Lipman repeats criticism of Helen Mirren being cast as
Dame Maureen Lipman has repeated her criticism of Dame Helen Mirren being cast to play former Israeli PM Golda Meir.
The Jewish Coronation Street actress said she “disagrees” with Mirren, who is not Jewish, in the role “because the Jewishness of the character is so integral.”
“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”, Mirren told the JC.
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Appearing on Good Morning Britain, Lipman was asked about her remarks, saying she would “not go back on what I actually said, because it’s true to an extent.”
“Helen Mirren is a fine actress, and will be brilliant in the role and will green-light the film, and be very good…I’ve nothing against Helen playing it. My query is, should the casting directors have looked first – and maybe they did – at Bette Midler or [Barbra] Streisand or Jennifer Connelly or Scarlett Johansson.. or indeed, I would have gone to Tracy Ullman, who’s a brilliant actress”.
She said those who cast Mirren “considered that Helen has Russian in her background, and therefore, she could play this this Jewish woman from Milwaukee.”
Lipman added it was a “complicated argument, and I will end up contradicting myself”.
Maureen Lipman (Credit: Jay Brooks)
Asked by the presenter whether the challenge of acting was to “become the person the character you are inhibiting, regardless of your background”, she said “of course, and that’s why I said I’ll be arguing against myself”.
“If the religion fires the character, then I honestly think you should look at that group [first]. If the character is gay, I think we should definitely see the gay actors first. See the Jewish actors first. And if it doesn’t work out” then find alternatives.
Speaking in November when the first glimpse of Mirren playing Meir was revealed, the actress said: “Golda Meir was 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!”
This comes after Maureen Lipman said last week that ‘cancel culture’ was killing comedy. She added on GMB: “It seems that now I look as if I go out with a loud hailer every Tuesday night to say woke is bad, or whatever it is”.
Helen Mirren as Golda Meir. Credit: Jasper Wolf