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Why ‘Golda’ director Guy Nattiv wasn’t worried about Helen Mirren casting backlash

Bleecker Street Media

The new movie Golda is a portrait of a tough Prime Minister facing the pressure of war.

Helen Mirren plays former Israeli leader Golda Meir, and director Guy Nattiv tells ABC Audio that Mirren was handpicked by Meir’s grandson Gideon Meir, who felt she’d be perfect to play his grandmother.

“In her, he saw the DNA there,” says Nattiv.

But even with the co-sign from Meir’s grandson, the choice wasn’t without controversy. Some in the Jewish community have spoken out about Jews being portrayed by non-Jews onscreen, whether it’s Bradley Cooper playing legendary composer Leonard Bernstein in the upcoming film Maestro, or Rachel Brosnahan playing the fictional title role The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

But the blowback wasn’t something Nattiv considered, he says, “Because I am Israeli and I am a second generation to a Holocaust survivor.”

“I am authentic enough to tell this story in a way that if I feel that Helen is the right person to tell the story, I guess that it works for me, y’know? And it worked for Golda’s family,” he explains. 

Nattiv also shares that, while Mirren isn’t Jewish, she does have a deep connection to Israel, having spent time there in her 20s, volunteering on a kibbutz.

“[She] picked tomatoes and fell in love with Israel and toured the country and slept on the beach in Eilat and … did the entire Zionist tour. She was basically living in Israel for a while,” he recalls of the actress’ experience. “I had the notion that she understood Golda to the core.”

Golda hits theaters nationwide Friday, August 26.

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