Helen Mirren: 'Israel has to exist forever'

The British actress also said she ignored pressure from the BDS movement to ignore Israel


English actor Helen Mirren and overs attend a press conference on the movie "Golda" as part of the Jerusalem film festival, in Jerusalem, July 13, 2023. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90 *** Local Caption *** ??? ???? ?????? ?????? ?????? ?????? ?????? ???????? ?????

British actress and screen legend Dame Helen Mirren has said Israel must “exist forever” because of the Holocaust. 

Mirren discussed her thoughts about the country after being cast to play the country’s first female Prime Minister Golda Meir in the biopic Golda

Speaking to Israel’s Channel 12, Mirren said: “I believe in Israel, in the existence of Israel, and I believe Israel has to go forward into the future, for the rest of eternity.

“I believe in Israel because of the Holocaust.”

Dame Helen went on to reveal that she faced pressure from the BDS movement throughout her career to ignore Israel.

However, the award-winning actress made clear that she supports Israeli artists and the country adding: “I’ve met such extraordinary people in Israel.

“I know there is a base, a foundation of deep, intelligence, thoughtfulness, commitment, poetry even in Israel that is very, very special, I think.”

Mirren’s interview was recorded in July when she was in Israel for the premiere of Golda at the Jerusalem Film Festival.

Golda tells the true story of Meir’s leadership during the 1973 Yom Kippur War and is directed by Israeli Guy Nattiv. 

Mirren said she came to Israel for the first time after the war and worked as a volunteer at Kibbutz Ha’on by the Sea of Galilee in the Golan Heights. 

Speaking about being in Israel at that time, she recalled: “The extraordinary magical energy of a country just beginning to put its roots in the ground — it was an amazing time to be here.”

Mirren described preparing for the role of Golda Meir by reading her autobiography and watching footage of the former Israeli PM.

The actress added she “didn’t know a lot about Meir” but clearly recalled “the feeling of triumph and satisfaction" that a woman had been elected to lead Israel for the first time.

She added: “It was a very exciting moment for women in general.”

Mirren said understanding Meir’s “physical and mental suffering” of dealing with the “enormous burden” of the war “was a revelation for me.”

Mirren has played several Jewish roles in the past including in the 2023 film White Bird where she played a Jewish woman who survived Nazi-occupied France as a youngster with the help of a non-Jewish boy from her school and his family who sheltered her.

In the 2015 film Woman in Gold, she starred as Maria Altmann, a Jewish refugee living in California who fought the Austrian government to reclaim a painting of her aunt by famed Austrian painter Gustav Klimt.

When asked about the number of Jewish characters she has played, she replied: “It is something that I do feel strongly about.”

Last year Mirren sparked a debate about "Jewface" casting, with Maureen Lipman questioning her casting. At the time, Dame Mirren said that "I do believe it is a discussion that has to be had" and that questions about her playing Meir were "utterly legitimate."

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