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Hollywood Now: Scarlett Johansson’s Heavy Roles, Anne Hathaway in Modern Love & Hailee Steinfeld as Dickinson

JoJo Rabbit
Roman Griffin Davis, Taika Waititi & Scarlett Johansson in JoJo Rabbit. Credit: Kimberley French/Twentieth Century Fox

Scarlett Johansson stars in two very different movies this fall. Marriage Story, Noah Baumbach’s drama about the disintegration and end of a couple’s relationship, is in limited release November 6 and premieres on Netflix December 6. But first, the daughter of a Jewish mother and Christian father appears in Jojo Rabbit, a comedy set in Nazi Germany (October 18). In it, her 10-year-old son Jojo has Hitler for an imaginary friend and has been brainwashed to hate Jews. But his mom secretly works for the Resistance and is hiding a Jewish girl in their attic. When Jojo discovers the stowaway and gets to know her, he comes to reconsider everything he’s been taught.

Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok) is the writer, director and plays Hitler in the story that echoes his personal experience. A New Zealand native and the son of a Russian-Jewish mother and Maori father, he “experienced a certain level of prejudice growing up as a Maori Jew, so making Jojo Rabbit has been a reminder, especially now, that we need to educate our kids about tolerance and continue to remind ourselves that there’s no place in this world for hate,” he says. In playing the buffoonish caricature of Hitler, “the little devil on Jojo’s shoulder,” Waititi aims to poke fun, but also remind “that Hitler was really recent in terms of human history and we’ve got to keep talking about it, because the dynamics that caused it aren’t going away.”

Hailee Steinfeld
Hailee Steinfeld in Dickinson. Credit: Apple

In Dickinson, Hailee Steinfeld plays 19th century poet Emily Dickinson with a modern sensibility. The series has “incredible comedic moments and this dark humor and dramatic moments and everything in between, and it really reflects everything in her poetry, which is every possible emotion,” says Steinfeld, who is from an interfaith family. “What’s really cool about this show is when you’re watching it, you kind of forget that it’s a period piece.” It premieres November 1 on the new Apple TV+ streaming service.

Anne Hathaway
Anne Hathaway in Modern Love. Credit: Amazon Prime

Anne Hathaway stars in the third episode of the Amazon Prime anthology series Modern Love, based on the popular New York Times first-person column of the same name, premiering October 18. She plays a woman struggling with bipolar disorder while learning to navigate a romantic relationship. “I’m happy to be a part of this story because we do need a greater level of understanding about this,” says Hathaway, who is expecting her second child with her husband, Jewish actor Adam Shulman. The interfaith couple, who wed seven years ago, are the parents of Jonathan, 3.

Michael Douglas returns to Netflix October 25 for the second season of The Kominsky Method, in which he plays the titular acting coach. The new episodes reunite him with Kathleen Turner, his Romancing the Stone and Jewel of the Nile co-star, who will play Ruth Bederman, described as “a woman who delights still being able to push the buttons of her ex-husband.” Douglas, whose father, actor Kirk Douglas is Jewish, identifies as a Reform Jew. He and his wife Catherine Zeta-Jones, who is not Jewish, will celebrate their 19th anniversary in November.

Also recurring on The Kominsky Method is Paul Reiser, playing the much older love interest of Sandy Kominsky’s daughter Mindy. On November 20, Reiser and Helen Hunt reunite in Spectrum’s reboot of Mad About You, playing interfaith couple Paul and Jamie Buchman. (Mirroring real life, Reiser is Jewish and Hunt is not). The first six episodes will be available at the same time, with the remaining six arriving on December 18.

Shia LaBeouf, who is Jewish on his mother’s side and Christian on his father’s, wrote and stars in Honey Boy, in theaters November 8. Directed by Israeli Alma Ha’rel, it’s based on LaBeouf’s own stormy childhood and troubled relationship with his father, who had mental health issues.

Lizzy Caplan joins the second season of Hulu’s horror series Castle Rock, which is based on Stephen King’s characters and stories. She plays Annie Wilkes, best known as the psycho nurse from Misery, who arrives in town to wreak havoc. The first three episodes begin streaming October 23, with the remaining seven premiering weekly on Wednesdays. Caplan, who is Jewish and in an interfaith marriage to Tom Riley (DaVinci’s Demons), will also star opposite Octavia Spencer in the Apple TV+ series Are You Sleeping. She’ll play twin sisters in the 10-episode drama, in which a true crime podcast reopens a cold murder case.

Gerri Miller

Gerri Miller wrote and reported from Los Angeles about celebrities, entertainment and lifestyle for The Jewish Journal, The Nosher, Hadassah and others. A New York native, she spent a summer working at Kibbutz Giv’at Brenner in Israel and attended High Holy Day services at the Laugh Factory in West Hollywood every year.


Author: Gerri Miller