With a background in avant garde theatre, the actress broke big with ‘The Mummy’. Now she plays historian Deborah Lipstadt, who took on Holocaust denier David Irving
One might reasonably deduce that Rachel Weisz had a personal connection with the material in Mick Jackson’s Denial. Based on a script by David Hare, the picture focuses on the libel action taken by David Irving, the English Holocaust denier, against Penguin Books and the historian Deborah Lipstadt in 2000. Both Weisz’s parents fled Europe before the war to escape the Nazis.
“There wasn’t really,” she says. “The Holocaust denial thing didn’t really affect me until the internet age. The parallels with Trump are huge. David Hare was massively aware of that. He was inspired by that before he even knew he would become president.”
Weisz is a famously smart piece of work. She learnt how to debate at the hearthside. She did a bit of modelling as a teenager. She read English literature at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, where she formed an avant garde theatre company. The larger world recognised her talent in 2005 when she won an Oscar for The Constant Gardener.
Did that early period of modelling prepare her for what was to come?
“No. Not really,” she says. “I was just a teenager getting dressed up for photographs. There was no fame attached. It’s actually a bit detrimental for acting in film. Doing that, you have to forget the camera is there. Well, I do anyway.”
Weisz twice decided not to go to drama college. The option was there when she left school. It loomed again when she left university.
“There was a choice,” she says. “I was going to go to drama school afterwards. I had a place at Central School of Speech and Drama. Then I got a job and didn’t go. I did want to. I had been thinking about drama school before. But I had been brainwashed to go to college.”
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