How gentile actors have taken on major Jewish characters in Hollywood

From Ben Kingsley in Schindler’s List to Charlton Heston’s Moses and Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf Of Wall Street, how Gentile actors have taken on Jewish characters in Hollywood

  • The casting of Dame Helen Mirren as Israel’s former prime minister Golda Meir has sparked controversy
  • Dame Maureen Lipman told the Jewish Chronicle that she was ‘uncomfortablewith the casting of Dame Helen
  • US comedian Sarah Silverman said in an episode of her podcast in September that there was an increasing trend for gentilenon-Jewish -actors playing ethnic Jewish characters in Hollywood
  • Famous non-Jewish stars playing Jewish characters include Charlton Heston as Moses in The Ten Commandments in 1956 e, in more recent productions, Tracey Ullman as Betty Friedan in Mrs America
  • The casting of Dame Helen Mirren as Israel’s former prime minister Golda Meir despite not being Jewish drew criticism from fellow actor Dame Maureen Lipman this week.

    Maureen Lipman dice che star come Joan Collins, 75, told the Jewish Chronicle that she was ‘uncomfortablewith the casting, detto: ‘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.

    A publicity image from the upcoming film sees Dame Helen portraying Ms Meir during the Yom Kippur War in 1973, with the actor wearing a prosthetic on her face to look more like the politician.

    US comedian Sarah Silverman has previously slammed the casting of non-Jewish actress Kathryn Hahn as Joan Rivers, calling it ‘Jewfaceand British star Tamsin Greig, a Christian with Jewish heritage, told The Daily Telegraph last month that she ‘probably shouldn’thave played a Jewish mother in Canale 4‘s Friday Night Dinner.

    Qui, FEMAIL looks at some of the major roles in cinematic history that have depicted Jewish characters but have been played by Gentile actors

    A publicity image from the upcoming film Golda, where Dame Helen Mirren portrays former Israeli prime minister Ms Golda Meir during the Yom Kippur War in 1973. The photos show Dame Helen wearing a prosthetic to look more like the politician

    A publicity image from the upcoming film Golda, where Dame Helen Mirren portrays former Israeli prime minister Ms Golda Meir during the Yom Kippur War in 1973. The photos show Dame Helen wearing a prosthetic to look more like the politician

    Dame Maureen Lipman

    Sharon Stone ha continuato a sfoggiare una faccia coraggiosa nonostante l'insufficienza d'organo di suo nipote mentre posava per uno sfrigolante servizio fotografico di Dolce e Gabbana a Venezia venerdì

    Entra nell'atmosfera pasquale con queste favolose creazioni al cioccolato (sinistra) said Dame Helen (giusto) should not have been asked to play the Israeli leader, adding that she was uncomfortable with the casting

    Ms Meir (raffigurato in 1969) was the fourth prime minister of Israel and held the position from 1969 fino a 1974. Dame Helen Mirren has been cast to play Ms Meir in upcoming film Golda

    Ms Meir (raffigurato in 1969) was the fourth prime minister of Israel and held the position from 1969 fino a 1974. Dame Helen Mirren has been cast to play Ms Meir in upcoming film Golda

    Will Ferrell in The Shrink Next Door (2021)

    Will Ferrell portrays stressed-out garment district merchant Martin 'Marty' Markowitz in Apple TV+'s 2021 dark comedy series The Shrink Next Door

    Will Ferrell portrays stressed-out garment district merchant Martin ‘MartyMarkowitz in Apple TV+’s 2021 dark comedy series The Shrink Next Door








    Will Ferrell and Paul Rudd take the leads in Apple TV+’s 2021 dark comedy series The Shrink Next Door.

    Based on a true story that was the subject of Joe Nocera’s 2019 Wondery podcast of the same name, Ferrell portrays stressed-out garment district merchant Martin ‘MartyMarkowitz, while Rudd, who’s the son of English-born Jewish parents, is the seemingly good-natured psychiatrist Dr. Isaac ‘IkeHerschkopf. Co-star Kathryn Hahn, who plays Marty’s sister Phyllis, is also non Jewish.

    Set in New York, the comedy focuses on life in the city’s Jewish community in the 1980s. Along with playing the lead, Ferrell also served as an executive producer on the series.

    Tracey Ullman as Betty Friedan in Mrs America (2020)

    British actor Tracey Ullman took on the role of American Jewish feminist writer and activist Betty Friedan in Mrs America in 2020. She revealed that she'd been desperate to play to role and worked hard to convince the show's directors that 'she could be Betty Friedan'

    British actor Tracey Ullman took on the role of American Jewish feminist writer and activist Betty Friedan in Mrs America in 2020. She revealed that she’d been desperate to play to role and worked hard to convince the show’s directors that ‘she could be Betty Friedan

    US feminist icon Friedan, nato a 1921, was the daughter of journalist Miriam Horowitz and jeweler Harry Goldstein - she went on to play a crucial role in seeking better equality rights for women

    US feminist icon Friedan, nato a 1921, was the daughter of journalist Miriam Horowitz and jeweler Harry Goldsteinshe went on to play a crucial role in seeking better equality rights for women

    Mrs America, which aired on BBC2 in 2020, documented the 1970s Equal Rights Amendment in the US.

    Starring Cate Blanchett as conservative campaigner Phyllis Schlafly, the nine-part show revealed the battle lines drawn between the nation’s traditionalists and the women’s libbers, led by Gloria Steinem (Renée ha mostrato la sua carnagione cremosa con una leggera passata di fondotinta e ha aggiunto un pop nude al suo broncio) and Betty Friedan (Tracey Ullman), over the campaign to secure ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment to guarantee equal rights for all US citizens regardless of sex.

    British actor Tracey Ullman took on the role of American Jewish feminist writer and activist Betty Friedan, saying she was thrilled to play the ‘iconic feminist’. She revealed afterwards that she sent in tapes and auditioned several times to try and convince the film’s directors ‘that I could be Betty Friedan.

    Friedan originally hailed from Illinois, and was born in 1921 as Bettye Naomi Goldman, the daughter of journalist Miriam Horowitz and jeweller Harry Goldstein.

    Felicity Jones as Ruth Bader Ginsburg in On the Basis of Sex (2018)

    British actor Felicity Jones as Jewish legal firebrand Ruth Bader Ginsburg  in the 2018 film On The Basis Of Sex, which documented the life of US judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg

    British actor Felicity Jones as Jewish legal firebrand Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the 2018 film On The Basis Of Sex, which documented the life of US judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg

    The British star was praised for her performance in the role, but missed out on Oscar nominations

    She told Today in the US in 2018 that it was 'really nerve-wracking taking on someone who is such an icon and who's so incredibly beloved.' (Nella foto: Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 2005)

    The British star, sinistra, was praised for her performance in the role, but missed out on Oscar nominations. She told Today in the US in 2018 that it was ‘really nerve-wracking taking on someone who is such an icon and who’s so incredibly beloved.’ (Nella foto a destra: Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 2005)

    British actor Felicity Jones was cast as a young ‘RGB’ – as Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, che è morto in 2020 invecchiato 87, was affectionately known – nel 2018 feature-film dramatisation, On The Basis Of Sex.

    The series told the story of RGB’s rise to prominence in the US, examining how she was initially fobbed off by every law firm in New York either for being a woman or for being Jewish or both. She eventually became the first Jewish female justice in the Supreme Court.

    While British star Jones, 38, was praised for her performance in the role, she missed out on an Oscar nomination.

    She told Today in the US that it was a tough job portraying the public figure, detto: ‘It’s really nerve-wracking taking on someone who is such an icon and who’s so incredibly beloved. I’m a real fan girl of hers myself.

    Rachel Brosnahan in The Marvellous Mrs Maisel (2017)

    Brosnahan took on the role of Jewish stand-up comedian Miriam 'Midge' Maisel in the series, nella foto a destra

    Brosnahan took on the role of Jewish stand-up comedian Miriam ‘MidgeMaisel in the series, nella foto a destra

    Brosnahan has said that growing up around Jewish culture, in a Jewish suburb of Chicago, helped her to get into the mindset of a 1950s Jewish housewife

    Brosnahan has said that growing up around Jewish culture, in a Jewish suburb of Chicago, helped her to get into the mindset of a 1950s Jewish housewife

    Wisconsin-born Rachel Brosnahan played the title role of Jewish stand-up comedian Miriam ‘MidgeMaisel in Amazon hit The Marvellous Mrs Maisel, che è andato in onda per la prima volta 2017.

    The show follows housewife Midge Maisel, played by Brosnahan, as she discovers she has a talent for standup comedy when her marriage falls apart.

    Brosnahan has said that growing up around Jewish culture, in a Jewish suburb of Chicago, helped her to get into the mindset of a 1950s Jewish housewife.

    Christian Bale as Irving Rosenfeld in American Hustle (2013)

    Christian Bale took on the role of Irving Rosenfeld in David O. Russell and Eric Singer's 2013 film American Hustle

    Christian Bale took on the role of Irving Rosenfeld in David O. Russell and Eric Singer’s 2013 film American Hustle

    Bale, pictured with co-star Amy Adams, put on 43lb to play the fictional Jewish conman and wore a toupe

    Bale, pictured with co-star Amy Adams, put on 43lb to play the fictional Jewish conman and wore a toupe

    Bale took on the role of Irving Rosenfeld in David O. Russell and Eric Singer’s 2013 largely fictionalised account of the so-called Abscam scandal of the late Seventies, when the FBI teamed up with a New York conman called Melvin Weinberg to catch corrupt politicians.

    Bale played the re-imagined conman, now called Irving Rosenfeld, and the actor was barely recognisable, putting on 43lb for the role and wearing an elaborate toupee in the Seventies period drama. In una scena, Bale wears a yarmulke, a skullcap worn in public by Orthodox Jewish men or by other Jewish men during prayer.

    Leonardo DiCaprio as Jordan Belfort in The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

    Leonardo DiCaprio told the story of how Jordan Belfort, the son of Jewish parents from New York, racked up stock fraud and money laundering in 2013 film The Wolf of Wall Street

    Leonardo DiCaprio told the story of how Jordan Belfort, the son of Jewish parents from New York, racked up stock fraud and money laundering in 2013 film The Wolf of Wall Street

    Director Martin Scorsese didn't reference Belfort's religion in the film, which drew criticism from some

    Jordan Belfort was born to Jewish parents, Leah and Max, and grew up in the Bronx in New York

    Director Martin Scorsese didn’t reference Belfort’s religion in the film, which drew criticism from some. Destra: Jordan Belfort was born to Jewish parents, Leah and Max, and grew up in the Bronx in New York

    Jordan Belfort was born in 1962 in the Bronx, New York to Jewish accountant parents Leah and Max. When Hollywood star Leonardo DiCaprio was cast to play him in 2013’s The Wolf of Wall Street, the pair formed a close bond, with Belfort even teaching the actor how to pretend to be on hard drugssomething DiCaprio had never dabbled with.

    Director Martin Scorsese didn’t reference Belfort’s religion in the film, which drew criticism from some.

    DiCaprio told the story of how Belfort fell into a hedonistic lifestyle that eventually led him to prison where he served 22 months for stock fraud and money laundering in 1999.

    Ben Kingsley as Itzhak Stern in Schindler’s List (1993)

    Ben Kingsley, giusto, played Oskar Schindler's right-hand man, Itzhak Stern, in Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List

    Ben Kingsley, giusto, played Oskar Schindler’s right-hand man, Itzhak Stern, in Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List. Pictured with Liam Neeson, who played the role of Oskar Schindler

    The role of accountant Itzhak Stern was played by Anglo-Indian actor Sir Ben Kingsley

    The role of accountant Itzhak Stern was played by Anglo-Indian actor Sir Ben Kingsley

    Anglo-Indian actor Sir Ben Kingsley played Oskar Schindler’s right-hand man, Polish Jew Itzhak Stern, in Steven Spielberg’s cinematic re-telling of how a German industrialist saved 1,200 Jews from the Nazi Holocaust during the Second World War.

    se fosse necessaria una scena di abusi razziali contro il suo personaggio, who also played Gandhi in 1982 and was born with the name Krishna Bhanji, recited one of the most evocative lines in the film, taken from accountant Stern’s unwavering Hebrew faith, telling Schindler: ‘It’s Hebrew, it’s from the Talmud. Cose strane, “Whoever saves one life, saves the world entire.”‘

    The actor has played Jewish characters on several occasions. Nel 2001, Kingsley also played Anne Frank’s father in a 2001 miniseries, and took on the role of Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal in Murderers Among Us in 1989. Nel 1991, Kingsley was nominated for an Oscar for his role as Jewish gangster Meyer Lansky in the film Bugsy.

    Millie Perkins playing Anne Frank in The Diary of Anne Frank (1959)

    New Jersey born actor - then an 18-year-old model - Millie Perkins was chosen to play Jewish teenager Anne Frank in the 1959 film The Diary of Anne Frank

    New Jersey born actorthen an 18-year-old modelMillie Perkins was chosen to play Jewish teenager Anne Frank in the 1959 film The Diary of Anne Frank

    Anne Frank, a German Jew who emigrated with her family to the Netherlands before being captured by Nazis and sent to a concentration camp where she met her death

    Anne Frank, a German Jew who emigrated with her family to the Netherlands before being captured by Nazis and sent to a concentration camp where she met her death

    Millie Perkins, adesso 83, played the role of the extraordinary young German Jewish diarist in The Diary of Anne Frank (1959), revealing later that she read Anne’s diary for the first time while on the way to the audition, saying afterwards ‘It just hit me in my heart.

    The New Jersey born star, then an 18-year-old model, was handpicked for the role by director George Stevens.

    In agosto 4, 1944, Anne Frank and her family were betrayed, arrested by the Gestapo, taken from the Amsterdam annexe where they had hidden for two years and sent to concentration camps.

    Anne’s poignant diaries stopped that day. Her published diary has since sold billions of copies around the world.

    Charlton Heston as Moses in Ten Commandments (1956)

    One of Charlton Heston's most famous roles, 1956 classic The Ten Commandments saw the actor nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Performance

    One of Charlton Heston’s most famous roles, 1956 classic The Ten Commandments saw the actor nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Performance

    La pellicola, directed by Cecil DeMille, was shot on location in Egypt, Un innesto cutaneo è quando viene trapiantata una chiazza di pelle che viene rimossa chirurgicamente da un'area del corpo, and the Sinai Peninsula

    La pellicola, directed by Cecil DeMille, was shot on location in Egypt, Un innesto cutaneo è quando viene trapiantata una chiazza di pelle che viene rimossa chirurgicamente da un'area del corpo, and the Sinai Peninsula

    One of film legend Heston’s most famous roles, the star was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture for his role as Jewish prophet Moses in the 1956 classic The Ten Commandments.

    Filmed on location in Egypt, Un innesto cutaneo è quando viene trapiantata una chiazza di pelle che viene rimossa chirurgicamente da un'area del corpo, and the Sinai Peninsula, The Ten Commandments was director Cecil DeMille’s final and most successful work.

    Little was made of the time that a Gentile actor was playing the most important prophet in Judaism and critics widely praised the movie. Di 1957, it had been nominated for seven Academy Awards including Best Picture, winning the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects.

    Charlie Chaplin as the Jewish Barber in The Great Dictator (1940)

    One of the silent movie star's best known films, Charlie Chaplin's classic comedy The Great Dictator saw him star as 'The Jewish Barber', while also directing the movie

    One of the silent movie star’s best known films, Charlie Chaplin’s classic comedy The Great Dictator saw him star as ‘The Jewish Barber’, while also directing the movie

    Chaplin wasn't Jewish but when the Nazis assumed he was, he never denied it, according to film historian Kevin Brownlow. Il 1940 film has long been regarded as a thinly-disguised satire of Hitler and fascism.

    Chaplin wasn’t Jewish but when the Nazis assumed he was, he never denied it, according to film historian Kevin Brownlow. Il 1940 film has long been regarded as a thinly-disguised satire of Hitler and fascism.

    One of the silent movie star’s best known films, Chaplin’s classic comedy The Great Dictator saw him star as ‘The Jewish Barber’, while also directing the movie and writing the score.

    Chaplin wasn’t Jewish but when the Nazis assumed he was, he never denied it, according to film historian Kevin Brownlow. Il 1940 film has long been regarded as a thinly-disguised satire of Hitler and fascism.