Actor Who Plays Holocaust Denier David Irving in New Film ‘Denial’ Admits Initial Hesitance to Portray ‘Loathsome’ Man
The British actor who plays notorious Holocaust denier David Irving in the recently released film “Denial” was at first hesitant about taking on the role of an individual “loathed by a lot of people,” he told the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday.
Timothy Spall said he was offered the part right after concluding a film in which he stars as another detested historical figure, the late Northern Ireland politician Ian Paisley, infamous for his anti-Catholic rhetoric. Spall told the Times that he was immediately wary of taking on a second villain, and that he was “opposed to just showing up to play the ‘baddie.'”
The actor also described how he prepared for his part in “Denial,” a movie based on Holocaust historian Deborah Lipstadt’s autobiography, History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier, which chronicles her high-profile fight and victory in a British court after Irving charged her with libel. Spall said he relied on Irving’s speeches and recorded extemporaneous remarks to get into character, unable to receive advice from the Holocaust denier himself, as Irving was not involved in the film’s production.
Spall said he researches extensively before playing any real-life person, even examining pictures for extended periods of time, as he tries to “make this sort of leap of imagination and see if I can understand them in a feeling in myself.”
Spall added, “[A]ny role I play — whether they hold controversial views, whether they are a popular character, whether they are a person completely insignificant as far as history is concerned — I always do it exactly the same. I try to play them completely from their own point of view.”