Life & Culture

Ed Asner plays Holocaust survivor in film being released two years after his death

The award-winning Jewish actor explores forgiveness after befriending troubled child of Holocaust denier


Ed Asner is the star of a new moving film about the unlikely relationship between a Holocaust survivor and an antisemitic sex worker. 

The Emmy awarding-winning Jewish actor died nearly two years ago but his final film ‘Tiger Within’, which was filmed before his death, will be fully released this week.

Asner plays a Holocaust survivor called Samuel who becomes the unlikely friend of a homeless teenager who was raised by a Holocaust denier. 

The teenager, Casey, is portrayed by newcomer Margot Josefsohn as a troubled 14-year-old living in Los Angeles.

After running away from her neglectful mother and failing to find support from her father, Casey resorts to sex work. She takes shelter in a cemetery, where she meets Samuel, an elderly man who is visiting his wife’s grave. 

Samuel, a Holocaust survivor, notices the swastika on Casey’s signature leather jacket and begins a conversation, eventually offering Casey some food and a safe place to sleep. 

As their friendship develops, he learns about the realities of the Holocaust and Samuel fulfils the promise he made to his deceased wife to learn to forgive.

Ahead of the release of the film, Director Rafal Zielinski researched forgiveness by interviewing religious leaders and hundreds of young people on the streets of Los Angeles about what forgiveness means to them.

The answers were varied, ranging from unconditional forgiveness to measured or transactional.

Zielenski said: “It shows how divided we really are. We all really want to forgive and unburden ourselves, but our human nature and upbringing intercepts us.”

Filmmakers said the focus on friendship between two generations, old and young, was also really important. It comes after recent studies showed nearly two-thirds of American young adults do not know that six million Jews were killed during the Holocaust. 

Asner, best known for his roles as Lou Grant on the “Mary Tyler Moore Show” and Carl in the Pixar animated film “Up,” died in 2021 at the age of 91.

He was born in 1929 in Kansas City to Jewish immigrant parents who practised a “midwestern” form of Orthodox Judaism.

He was also involved in political activism and joined Jewish Voice for Peace initiatives in speaking out against Israel’s occupation of the West Bank.

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