Winona Ryder says she was once told she ‘looked too Jewish’ for period film part

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Winona Ryder says she was once told she ‘looked too Jewish’ for period film part

The Stranger Things star opened up about her Jewish identity ahead of the UK release of The Plot Against America, out next month

Winona Ryder at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival.
 (Credit: Karon Liu, CC BY 2.0,
Winona Ryder at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival. (Credit: Karon Liu, CC BY 2.0,

Award-winning actress Winona Ryder has said she was once told by a studio executive that she looked “too Jewish” for a part in a period film.

“There are times when people have said, ‘Wait, you’re Jewish? But you’re so pretty!’ There was a movie that I was up for a long time ago, it was a period piece, and the studio head, who was Jewish, said I looked ‘too Jewish’ to be in a blue-blooded family,” the Stranger Things star told the Sunday Times at the weekend.

She spoke to the newspaper ahead of the UK release of the drama series The Plot Against America, available for streaming on Sky Atlantic and Now TV next month, in which she stars alongside actors Michael Kostroff (The Wire), Zoe Kazan (The Big Sick) and John Turturro (The Jesus Rolls).

The film adaptation of Philip Roth’s 2004 eponymous novel revolves around a Jewish family in 1940s Newark who watch as the United States hurls towards fascism in an alternative reimagining of history.

Ryder, 48, who lost family members to the Nazi regime, opened up about her Jewish heritage, revealing that while she is secular, she “does identify”. She added: “It’s a hard thing for me to talk about because I had family who died in the camps, so I’ve always been fascinated with that time.”

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