11 Best Performances by Non-Jewish Actors Playing Jews in the Movies

Christian Bale and Leonardo DiCaprio Inspire Our List

Kafkaesque Performance: Anthony Perkins on the set of ‘The Trial’ with Jeanne Moreau and director Orson Welles.
AP Photo
Kafkaesque Performance: Anthony Perkins on the set of ‘The Trial’ with Jeanne Moreau and director Orson Welles.

By Adam Langer

Published February 20, 2014.
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8. Cate Blanchett as Bob Dylan in “I’m Not There” (2007)
Apart from the terrific soundtrack, Todd Haynes’s meditation on the Bob Dylan myth seems more film school exercise than full-fledged film. Nevertheless, the performance Blanchett turns in as the Bard during his “Like a Rolling Stone” period marks the one segment where the film goes electric.


9. Tom Cruise as Les Grossman in “Tropic Thunder” (2008)
The rumor is that Harvey Weinstein was the inspiration for Cruise’s turn as a bald, bearded, loud-mouthed Hollywood producer who suggests a maniacal version of Christian Bale’s performance in “American Hustle.” Either way, this is one of Cruise’s most engaging comic roles, and even if much of the movie wasn’t totally worth the price of admission, the Les Grossman dance sequence certainly was.


10. Barbara Sukowa as Hannah Arendt in “Hannah Arendt” (2012) and Rosa Luxemburg in “Rosa Luxemburg” (1986)
As one of the leading voices of New German Cinema, director Margarethe von Trotta has distinguished herself as one of the great interpreters of German history and culture. And, her collaborations with Barbara Sukowa seem every bit as significant to us as the one between, say, Martin Scorsese and Robert DeNiro.


11. Ben Cross as Harold Abrahams in “Chariots of Fire” (1981), and Anjelica Huston as Tamara Broder in “Enemies: A Love Story” (1989)
Leaving some names off this list was easy — John Turturro as Moe Flatbush in “Mo’ Better Blues” comes to mind. But there were too many to keep this as a simple 10. Score the last one as a tie.

Adam Langer is the arts and culture editor of the Forward.


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