Actress and comedian Sarah Silverman has slammed Hollywood for casting non-Jewish actors in Jewish roles.
During an episode of her podcast, Sarah Silverman shared her opinions on Jewish roles in Hollywood, saying she has an issue with how these roles are cast and portrayed. Silverman is herself Jewish and believes ‘Jewface’ is something that is widely used in Hollywood, which is not openly discussed enough.
Silverman’s begins her argument by bringing up the recent casting of Kathryn Hahn to play the late Joan Rivers. Hahn, know for her roles in Step Brothers, Bad Moms, and more recently Marvel’s WandaVision, is not Jewish, but Joan Rivers is.
‘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,’ Silverman said during the podcast. ‘One could argue, for instance, that a Gentile [a non-Jew] playing Joan Rivers correctly would be doing what is actually called ‘Jewface.”
She went on to describe what ‘Jewface’ is. ‘It’s defined as when a non-Jew portrays 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,’ she said. ‘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?’
Along with the casting of Hahn to play Joan Rivers, Silverman also brought up other examples of what she calls ‘Jewface’ in Hollywood. Her examples include Felicity Jones as Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Rachael Brosnahan in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Margo Martindale who played Bella Abzug and Tracey Ullman who was cast as Betty Friedan.
Silverman made it clear that she is not calling out the actresses themselves, as she mentions that they all are ‘doing anything wrong’. That said, she concludes that, ‘right now, representation f**king matters.’