Academy Award-winning actress Rachel Weisz has taken over the lead role in “Denial,” the Hollywood feature film based on American scholar Deborah Lipstadt’s legal battle against British Holocaust denier David Irving. It had been originally announced last April that Hilary Swank, also an Oscar recipient, would be playing Lipstadt.
According to Lipstadt, Weisz’s replacing Swank was due to a change in Swank’s personal schedule. “I am very happy with the choice of Rachel. In fact, I am thrilled,” Lipstadt told The Times of Israel.
The film, based on Lipstadt’s “History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier,” will go into full production this December. Shooting locations will include Poland, London and Atlanta, where Lipstadt serves as the Dorot professor of modern Jewish and Holocaust studies at Emory University.
“Denial,” written by David Hare and to be directed by Mick Jackson, will also star Tom Wilkinson and Timothy Spall.
In preparation for her new role, Weisz recently spent some time with Lipstadt. The professor said that the two met at the New York City home of Weisz and her husband actor Daniel Craig, known best for his portrayal of James Bond.
“We spent a total of close to 14 hours over two days in conversation,” Lipstadt said. “She wanted to hear all sorts of details about my experiences. She had many questions.”
Calling Weisz “a consummate professional,” Lipstadt commended the seriousness with which the actress is approaching this role.
“Here intelligence and humanity were evident, and it was clear that she wants to get this right,” Lipstadt said.
Weisz, 45, who was born and grew up in London and graduated from Cambridge University, holds both British and American citizenship. Both her parents were Central European refugees who arrived in the UK before the outbreak of World War II. Her father was a Hungarian Jew and her mother came from a part-Jewish Viennese family.
Lipstadt believes the actress’s family history has a bearing on how she is approaching her participation in this particular film about standing up to defend history against revisionism, especially Holocaust denial.
“Both her parents were refugees from Hitler. I think that gives her a special affinity for this role,” said Lipstadt.