Actor Josh Gad Talks Judaism in Films and His ‘Marshall’ Character’s Strong Faith
by Shiryn Ghermezian
Jewish actor Josh Gad talked in a recent interview about the portrayal of Judaism in films, the connection between racism and antisemitism, and how the Jewish faith was central to the character he plays in his latest project.
In the new film “Marshall,” now in theaters, Gad plays a Jewish insurance lawyer named Sam Freeman who partnered in the 1940s with Thurgood Marshall, an activist in the civil rights movement who later became the first African-American Supreme Court Justice. In 1941, Marshall was a lawyer for the NAACP and, with Freeman’s help, defended Joseph Spell, a black chauffeur accused of raping and attempting to murder a rich white woman.
In the film, Freeman talks about the importance of his faith, attends temple services with his family and a member of his congregation even donates money to Spell’s defense. Gad told BuzzFeed News last week the character he portrayed on screen had a strong connection to Judaism, even though he did not always flaunt it. Gad noted, “I think it was so important to illustrate how important faith is to this man, despite the fact that he doesn’t necessarily wear it on his sleeve out in the open.”
The actor added that Judaism tends to be hidden in the background in movies. He explained, “There’s a comment that’s sort of notorious in Hollywood especially by creative people of Jewish background where there’s a great fear that something might be too Jewish for audiences.”
Gad continued, “I think one of the refreshing things about this film is it does embrace that very thing and to me it was so important because it’s true, you don’t really get to see that.”
He also talked about the intersection of racism and antisemitism. Gad said, “The idea of being persecuted against because of your faith and being persecuted against because of the color of your skin are two very different things but they arrive that the same point of entry. And that was a fascinating exploration because there is this sense for Sam in the film that if I just keep my mouth shut and just play the game, I can get by. I can do what I want to do. I can assimilate and I’ll be fine. They didn’t have that option.”
Watch Gad’s interview with BuzzFeed News below: