Jewish Actors in Star Wars
I’ve been extremely excited about the new Star Wars movie that came out this December. The Star Wars franchise was a big deal to me as a child, and all the more so because of the ethnically and religiously Jewish actors involved in the series. Although the characters they portray are not Jewish - and really can not be considering none of the cultures in Star Wars are meant to be real Earth ones - it was and still is important Jewish representation.
Frank Oz - Yoda
Frank Oz was born Frank Richard Oznowicz in Hereford, England. “His parents moved to England after fighting the Nazis with the Dutch Brigades. Oz’s Dutch/Polish father was Jewish and his Flemish mother was a lapsed Roman Catholic.” [x] Oz is a filmmaker, actor, and puppeteer known for creating and playing Miss Piggy and Fozzie Bear in The Muppet Show as well as Cookie Monster, Bert, and Grover in Sesame Street. He also directed Little Shop of Horrors and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. In Star Wars, Oz was both the puppeteer and voice actor for Yoda.
Natalie Portman - Padmé Amidala
Natalie Portman was born Neta-Lee Hershlag (נטע-לי הרשלג) in Jerusalem, Israel. Her father was an Israeli and her mother was American giving Portman dual citizenship between the countries. She and her family are Jewish and her paternal great-grandparents died in Aushwitz during the Holocaust. “Portman’s parents met at a Jewish student center at Ohio State University, where her mother was selling tickets. They corresponded after her father returned to Israel and were married when her mother visited a few years later. In 1984, when Portman was three years old, the family moved to the United States, where her father received his medical training.” [x] She has had an exceedingly successful acting career, including her role as Padmé Amidala in the Star Wars prequels. She portrayed the character in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace while still in high school.
Harrison Ford - Han Solo
Harrison Ford is an American actor and film producer. His paternal grandparents were of Irish Catholic and German descent and his maternal grandparents were Jewish immigrants from Minsk, Belarus. “When asked in which religion he and his brother were raised, Ford has jokingly responded, ‘Democrat,’ ‘to be liberals of every stripe.’ In a television interview shown in August 2000, when asked about what influence his Irish Catholic and Russian Jewish ancestry may have had on his life as a person and as an artist, Ford humorously stated, ‘As a man I’ve always felt Irish, as an actor I’ve always felt Jewish.’” [x] Harrison Ford has had a long and successful film career, including his role as Han Solo in the Star Wars franchise.
Carrie Fisher - Leia Organa
Carrie Fisher is an American actress and writer, the daughter of singer Eddie Fisher and actress Debbie Reynolds. “Her father was Jewish, the son of immigrants from Russia, and her mother was raised a Nazarene, and is of Scots-Irish and English ancestry… Fisher has described herself as an ‘enthusiastic agnostic who would be happy to be shown that there is a God.’ She was raised Protestant, but often attends Jewish services, the faith of her father, with Orthodox friends… Fisher has publicly discussed her problems with drugs, her struggle with bipolar disorder, and her overcoming an addiction to prescription medication” [x] She has become a role model for many women and others dealing with addiction and mental illness. In film, she is best known for her role as Princess Leia Organa in Star Wars.