“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” star Tony Shalhoub doesn’t agree with comedian Sarah Sivlerman’s assertion that non-Jewish actors should not be cast in Jewish roles.
Silverman called out “Mrs. Maisel” star Rachel Brosnahan for portraying a 1950’s Jewish New Yorker despite not practicing the Jewish faith. Shalhoub, who plays Brosnahan’s professor father, is also not Jewish.
“I always feel that we’re actors,” the former “Monk” star said. “We were trained to — at least I was — to not play myself, to play characters and so it’s troubling to me that they’re limiting actors.”
“I just don’t know,” Shalhoub, a Maronite Christian went on. “If we start to go down that road, I don’t know where it ends.”
Silverman raised the issue on her podcast last week, over the casting of Catholic actress Kathryn Hahn as Joan Rivers in a new series.
“There’s this long tradition of non-Jews playing Jews, and not just playing people who happen to be Jewish but people whose Jewishness is their whole being,” she complained. “One could argue, for instance, that a Gentile [a non-Jew] playing Joan Rivers correctly would be doing what is actually called ‘Jewface.’”
Silverman, who is Jewish, defined “Jewface” as when a “non-Jew” plays a “Jew with the Jewishness front and center, often with makeup or changing of features, big fake nose, all the New York-y or Yiddish-y inflection.”
“And in a time when the importance of representation is seen as so essential and so front and center, why does ours constantly get breached even today in the thick of it?” She questioned.
“Are people who are members of the Mafia, are they going to be upset that people who haven’t actually committed those types of crimes are playing those roles?” Shalhoub countered. “When you extrapolate it all the way out the way lies complete chaos.”