Helen Mirren’s Hebrew Lesson

By Nathan Burstein

Published March 18, 2009, issue of March 27, 2009.
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Hollywood’s newest Mossad agent has arrived in Israel for filming.

Oscar winner Helen Mirren landed near Tel Aviv on March 15 to shoot scenes for “The Debt,” an English-language remake of a 2007 Israeli thriller about a small team of Mossad operatives who capture and then accidentally release a Nazi war criminal in Berlin. Four decades later, the murderous German doctor resurfaces in Ukraine, ready to confess his crimes — a twist that presents a problem for the now-retired intelligence agents, who became national heroes at home after reporting that they had killed the man during his escape attempt. Mirren, a 2007 Oscar winner for her role in “The Queen,” will play Rachel Singer, one of the Mossad operatives who is herself the daughter of Holocaust survivors. The film co-stars two-time Oscar nominee Tom Wilkinson (“In the Bedroom,” “Michael Clayton”) and will be directed by John Madden, a 1999 Oscar nominee for his work behind the camera on “Shakespeare in Love.” Filming will take place partly in Herzliya, a coastal town north of Tel Aviv, and is also scheduled for locations in England and Germany.

Mirren, who worked with a speech specialist for her Oscar-winning role as Queen Elizabeth II, has learned some Hebrew and studied the history of the Mossad as part of her preparation for her role in “The Debt.” The film is set to be released next year.


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