Maureen Lipman speaks of late partner Guido in Offies speech

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Dame Maureen Lipman, 75, has ensured to get her point across after she criticised the decision to cast Dame Helen Mirren in the upcoming biopic Golda. The Coronation Street star had previously questioned whether the Oscar winner should be playing a Jewish character being a non-Jewish actress.

She previously told The Jewish Chronicle about Golda Meir: “The Jewishness of the character is so integral.”

Maureen has today addressed the subject during an appearance on Good Morning Britain.

She explained: “Because as globalisation gets bigger, casting gets smaller, and we’re getting more and more tribal.

“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.”

But Maureen stressed that Helen will do a “brilliant” job, despite not being Jewish.

She went on: “My feeling is, firstly, that Helen Mirren is a fine actress, and will be brilliant in the role and will green-light the film and be very good because she’s sexy and Golda Meir, believe it or not, was very sexy.

“I’ve seen shows about her before so I have nothing against Helen playing it.”

She continued: “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?

“Probably I would have gone for Tracey Ullman, who is a brilliant actress.

“But maybe they wouldn’t green-light a film and maybe they considered that Helen has Russian in her background and therefore she could play this Jewish woman from Milwaukee.”

Maureen’s remarks have sparked conversation around whether Helen should have been selected for the role.

Rabbi Jonathan Romain, director of Maidenhead Synagogue in Berkshire, said actors “don’t have to be Jewish to play a Jew”.

He wrote in a tweet: “We had a discussion on this at Maidenhead Synagogue two weeks ago; the unanimous verdict was that actors should act – that’s what is their skill. 

“You don’t have to be Jewish to play a Jew or orphaned to be an orphan.

“But it’s wise to have an adviser from whatever is the context.”

Twitter user stephenpollard said: “I adore Maureen Lipman but she couldn’t be more wrong on this.

“The logic of her position is that the only character any actor can play is themselves.”

thejanejanie tweeted: “I’ve spent time with Maureen Lipman and chatted to her over a G&T and she was fabulous company but her latest comments about Helen Mirren not being able to play a Jewish character are utterly bonkers!

“How many non Jewish characters have you played Maureen?”

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