Daniel Radcliffe Thrills in the Jungle
Like the Amazonian version of The Revenant, Daniel Radcliffe suffered extreme hunger, heat, near-drowning and fire ant attacks, and even performed self-surgery to remove a worm embedded in his forehead in his thrilling new film Jungle, opening October 20 in theaters, On Demand and digital platforms. It’s based on the real-life experiences of Israeli adventurer Yossi Ghinsberg, who was lost in the Bolivian jungle in 1981 and lived to tell the tale. Radcliffe went on a strict diet and lost 14 pounds for the physically challenging role, but nevertheless says, “It was a very fun film to make. We had a great director, DP, and crew and there was a really good camaraderie.”
Radcliffe spoke to Ghinsberg, the son of Jewish Holocaust survivors, to prepare for the role. “We talked about his experiences in the jungle and how his faith related to it. The thing that I found fascinating was the ripple effect of the Holocaust on the next generations of Jewish people—the fact that the previous generation went through something so horrendous put on the pressure that these future generations feel to live up to,” he says.
The son of a Northern Irish Protestant father and a South African-born Jewish mother of European descent, Radcliffe describes his family as “Christmas tree Jews. We weren’t a particularly religious family. But I was definitely brought up knowing I was Jewish through my mother’s side and knowing my Jewish family. My grandmother was alive and a big part of my life.”
Radcliffe will next play a pilot forced into a drug-running mission in Beast of Burden, due out in February, and will play an angel reporting to Owen Wilson’s God in the heaven-set comedy Miracle Workers, which will premiere on TBS next year.
Julianne Moore is Wonderstruck
Julianne Moore plays the dual role of a 1920s actress and a 1970s museum curator in the enchanting movie Wonderstruck, which tells two stories set 50 years apart, both following children to New York City on quests that connect in surprising ways. Opening October 20, the movie is the fourth collaboration between Moore and director Todd Haynes (after Far From Heaven, Carol, I’m Not There and Mildred Pierce). Moore has some Jewish ancestry going back several generations on her father’s side and is married to Jewish director Bart Freundlich. Haynes is Jewish on his mother’s side.
Moore also plays Matt Damon’s wife in the ‘50s-set dark comedy Suburbicon, directed by George Clooney, and will star next year in the thriller Bel Canto as an opera singer trapped in a South American hostage crisis.
More Stranger Things
Just in time for Halloween, Winona Ryder returns in the highly anticipated second season of HBO’s Stranger Things, which premieres October 27. It picks up a year later on October 30, 1984, with her character Joyce’s son Will (Noah Schnapp) suffering from disturbing visions of the monster from the Upside Down. The daughter of a Buddhist mother and non-practicing Jewish father, Ryder has described herself as Jewish.
Miles Teller Plays Hero
Miles Teller stars in two films about real-life heroes this month, starting with Only the Brave, the story of the elite firefighters who battled an Arizona wildfire in 2013 that killed all but one member of the crew. Teller plays the rookie in the movie, which also stars Josh Brolin, Jeff Bridges, and Taylor Kitsch and opens October 20. In Thank You For Your Service, opening a week later, Teller plays a soldier struggling with PTSD and adjusting to civilian life after returning from Iraq. Amy Schumer, in her first non-comedy role, plays the wife of another soldier.
Teller, whose paternal grandfather was of Russian-Jewish descent, proposed to his girlfriend Kaleigh Sperry, who is not Jewish, while on an African safari in August. Schumer’s father is Jewish and her mother, born Protestant, converted to Judaism.
A Must-Watch Documentary that gets Dealt
Dealt is a fascinating documentary about “card mechanic” Richard Turner, who does astounding sleight-of-hand feats with a deck of cards (he’s never without one)—all the more remarkable since he’s totally blind. Filmmaker Luke Korem, who is from Austin, Texas, and is the son of a Southern Baptist mother and a Jewish father. His father is a magician and author who converted to Christianity. Korem tried his hand at magic himself in his youth and has always been fascinated by it. He spent three years filming Turner and his family, and the result is a very personal portrait of a unique individual. Dealt opens on October 20 in New York, October 27 in L.A., and other cities in November.
From Glee Club to the Convent
Dianna Agron (Glee), the Jewish-raised daughter of a Jewish father and a mother who converted to Judaism, plays a nun in the drama Novitiate, which is set in 1964 and deals with issues of faith, sexuality and changes in the Catholic Church following the Second Vatican Council. Opening October 20, it also stars Margaret Qualley, Melissa Leo, and Julianne Nicholson.
Mazel Tov for all the Babies!
Scandal’s Katie Lowes, who is not Jewish and her Jewish husband Adam Shapiro became first-time parents with the October 5 birth of their son Albee. Jewish actor Jonathan Silverman and his wife Jennifer Finnigan (Salvation), who is not Jewish, welcomed their first child Ella Jack on September 29. And Jason Biggs of the American Pie movies, who was raised Catholic, and his wife Jenny Mollen (Chicago Fire), who was raised in her father’s Jewish faith, welcomed their second child on October 2, a boy named Lazlo. Brother Sid is 3. Mazel tov to all!
Don’t Miss What’s Upcoming for Alicia Silverstone and Scarlett Johansson
Alicia Silverstone plays the mother of a disturbed teenage boy (Barry Keoghan) who disrupts the lives of a doctor (Colin Farrell) and his wife (Nicole Kidman) in the psychological thriller The Killing of a Sacred Deer, opening October 29. Silverstone, whose father is Jewish and whose Christian mother converted to Judaism before marrying him, was raised Jewish and had a bat mitzvah. She married musician Christopher Jarecki, who is not Jewish, in 2005.
Scarlett Johansson’s Jewish ancestry is one of the subjects of the October 31 episode of PBS’ Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Her maternal line traces back to Poland, where her great-grandfather was born, and then emigrated to the U.S. in 1910. His brother’s family was less fortunate. They remained in Poland, where they were transported to the Warsaw Ghetto in 1941, and were among the thousands of Jews that died there.