The actress portrays Israel's late prime minister Golda Meir in "Golda," in theaters Friday
Helen Mirren's physical transformation for Golda was a new experience for the actress.
Mirren, 78, told DuJour magazine about the new film, in which she plays former Israeli prime minister Golda Meir during the 1973 Yom Kippur War. She said she and the film's makeup department "went through various manifestations" to get her look for the part right.
“Eventually we got to a point where we felt it was sufficient but hopefully not too much. With that sort of makeup, you’re wandering into dangerous territory," the Oscar winner said. "Obviously, it’s there and you can’t say it’s not there. But on the other hand, the audience knows I’m not an Irish woman living in Montana.”
Mirren added that she felt closely entwined with Meir during filming, noting she would think about "that acting thing: am I becoming her or is she becoming me?"
“I’ve never done anything like that before. It was an adventure," she said. "I got so used to being that person in the daytime that when the makeup all came off and I saw myself as I am, I’d forgotten that was what I looked like."
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"There’s a picture the crew made of me and Golda, and we’re in identical outfits," Mirren added to DuJour. "She’s turning to me and saying something, and I’m looking forward with a cigarette. It’s really powerful.”
Mirren's casting as Meir, Israel's first woman prime minister, was met with criticism that a non-Jewish person should not portray Meir onscreen.
Mirren previously told the Daily Mail that she told Golda director Guy Nattiv: "'Look, Guy, I'm not Jewish, and if you want to think about that, and decide to go in a different direction, no hard feelings. I will absolutely understand.' But he very much wanted me to play the role, and off we went."
"She was Golda," Nattiv, 50, told DuJour, adding that he never interacted with Mirren while she was not in costume during filming. "Working with her was a dream come true.”
Golda, per a synopsis, meets its title character as she is "faced with the potential of Israel’s complete destruction" in 1973, as Egypt, Syria and a number of other Middle Eastern countries launched a surprise attack on Israel. The movie also stars Liev Schreiber as then-American Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, whom Meir negotiates with for military and diplomatic aid from the United States to end the conflict.
"I do believe it is a discussion that has to be had — it's utterly legitimate," Mirren previously told the Daily Mail last year of discussion over whether she should play a notable Jewish figure. She posed the question: "You know, if someone who's not Jewish can't play Jewish, does someone who's Jewish play someone who's not Jewish? There's a lot of terrible unfairness in my profession."
Golda is in theaters Friday.
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