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September 29, 2016 1:50 pm

‘Justice Needs Troublemakers’: The Phrase That Connected Oscar-Winner Rachel Weisz and Historian Deborah Lipstadt in the Making of ‘Denial’

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

Actress Rachel Weisz, left, and Deborah Lipstadt, right. Photo: Courtesy of Bleecker Street Theater.

Actress Rachel Weisz, left, and Deborah Lipstadt, right. Photo: Courtesy of Bleecker Street Theater.

Renowned Holocaust historian Deborah Lipstadt described being told by the Oscar-winning actress who plays her character in the upcoming movie,“Denial” that “Justice needs troublemakers, and it found one in you.”

Lipstadt, who teaches Holocaust Studies at Emory University, was describing the nature of the relationship she had developed with Rachel Weisz over the course of the movie’s production to the audience in attendance — including The Algemeiner — following a preview screening at the Jewish Community Center (JCC) of Manhattan.

“I was smitten at that point,” Lipstadt said, recounting that she had jotted down Weisz’s words on a piece of paper, which she keeps on her bedside table to this day.

The movie tells the story of Lipstadt’s high-profile battle for vindication — and subsequent victory — in a libel suit filed against her and her publisher in a British court by David Irving, whom she had accused of falsifying history, in her 1993 book, Denying the Holocaust.

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Lipstadt, who was born in New York, said the film authentically portrays the emotions she experienced when Irving came after her. She explained, “[The movie] certainly captures the fear I felt; the ‘fish out of water’ [feeling]. The anger I felt.” She added, “I think it captures the essence of the nefariousness of this man and the way I was forced to stand up to him.”

She also talked about her “very intimate kind of involvement” in the creation of her character for the film, and the dedication showed by Weisz, a London native, in perfecting Lipstadt’s speech patterns.

“As [Weisz] began to prepare scenes, she would call me and say, ‘Read the lines for this scene,’ because she wanted to get the accent right,” Lipstadt said. “She spent a lot of time asking me to pronounce things and read certain lines, and then she would call me periodically [and say], ‘Tell me what you were thinking; tell me what it was like’ in the scene she was going to do the next day.”

Lipstadt then recounted something that happened after the film’s opening in Toronto.

“I came out on stage after the screening to speak…[and afterwards] someone wrote, ‘Deborah Lipstadt sounds just like Rachel Weisz.’  And I said, ‘I think you got it backwards.’”

“Denial” opens in US theaters on Friday.

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