Life & Culture

The 'cool Jew' is back and Brits are leading the way

This summer we saw the beginning of the return of the handsome Jewish leading man.


TORONTO, ONTARIO - SEPTEMBER 08: Actor Jonah Hauer-King of 'The Song of Names' attends The IMDb Studio Presented By Intuit QuickBooks at Toronto 2019 at Bisha Hotel & Residences on September 08, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images for IMDb)

Jewface? Schmooface? Jewish geek? No! Do I have sweet 5784 news for you: the cool Jew, the handsome Jew, is back. And it is British men who are leading the pack.

In case you need to be reminded why the cool Jew is not a new phenomenon think Paul Newman, Kirk Douglas, James Caan, Richard Dreyfuss and Harrison Ford. I mean, even Dustin Hoffman managed to shtup a mother and daughter in The Graduate. But then came Woody Allen, and somehow Hollywood Jews became geeky and phlegmy and losery (looking at you Seth Rogan).

But this summer we saw the beginning of the return of the handsome Jewish leading man.

Jonah Hauer-King may have been second on the billing in A Little Mermaid but he was playing a Disney prince.

In the meantime, he was also the leading man of the Second World War epic World on Fire with two gorgeous women in love with him. And Jonah’s next role will be his most Jewish yet: he’s playing Lale Sokolov in Sky’s eagerly-awaited adaptation of the best-selling book The Tattooist of Auschwitz.

Meanwhile, Jonah’s World on Fire co-star Gregg Sulkin, who played the Jewish character David in the show, can next be seen with Susan Sarandon and Kerry Washington in the upcoming American war film Six Triple Eight.

It has also been quite a summer for British Jew Kingsley Ben-Adir, who played one of Barbie’s Kens in what has been in the biggest hit of the year. You can also admire him in the American television miniseries Secret Invasion. And later this year he stars as Bob Marley in the biopic One Love about the world’s most famous reggae musician.

The handsome and cool Oliver Jackson-Cohen is also making waves in fun romantic drama Amazon Prime Video’s Wilderness, which began last week.

The son of designer Betty Jackson and businessman David Cohen is jazz musician Will in the series having recently played the lead role in feature film Jackdaw, which is due out next year.

Meanwhile, Jacob Fortune-Lloyd, who set hearts aflutter in Netflix hit The Queen’s Gambit, will be back on Netflix later this year as a slightly crooked but very cool Jewish copper in wartime Britain in Bodies.

The equally dashing Harry Potter star Jason Isaacs has been cast as classic Hollywood star Cary Grant in a new biopic. Friends who have been behind the set say he looks extremely cool as the acting legend.

Even Daniel Radcliffe has buffed up — if you haven’t seen the photos of the newly muscley Harry Potter star you need to find them — maybe because it is rumoured that he is to star in Deadpool 3.

Yes, the Yanks are on our tails — Joaquin Phoenix will star in Napoleon and Timothee Chalamet in both Dune 2 and Willy Wonka later this year. But the British boys are flying the flag for cool Jews — without a prosthetic nose in sight.

Jews in the News

The London Film Festival has a particularly Jewish flavour this year. It will host the first UK showing of Golda, the film about the Israeli prime minister starring Helen Mirren, and there will be a gala screening of One Life, a biopic about the life of Nicholas Winton, played by Anthony Hopkins.

Maestro, the controversial but already critically acclaimed Bradley Cooper film about Leonard Bernstein, will be shown while Michael Winterbottom’s Shoshanna, about a young Zionist’s relationship with a policeman in British Mandatory Palestine, may also provide some debate.

Race Across the World is one of the most life-affirming reality shows on television and it is well worth watching the celebrity version on BBC1 to see All Saints star Melanie Blatt and her French-Jewish mother Helene take part in a gruelling 10,000 kilometre journey across 24 countries using only basic supplies.

Adam Sandler’s relationship with Netflix goes from strength to strength with the sweet You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah proving a huge hit. His next film for the channel is rather different.

Leo, out in November, is an animated coming-of-age story about the last year of elementary school – as seen through the eyes of a 74-year-old lizard who has been stuck in the same Florida classroom for decades.

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