'It was just part of how I was brought up'
Denial actress Rachel Weisz's refugee parents fled the Holocaust and she grew up hearing them talk about it every day
Rachel Weisz's latest film could not get more personal.
The British actress headlines Denial, a true story about Deborah Lipstadt, an acclaimed US professor and historian who battled for historical truth when she was sued by Holocaust denier David Irving (Timothy Spall) after her book, Denying The Holocaust: The Growing Assault On Truth And Memory, was published in the UK.
Lipstadt refused to settle and had to not only defend herself in the UK court, but prove that the Holocaust really happened.
Denial, opening here tomorrow, also stars Tom Wilkinson.
"My parents talked about it every day. It's so part of their identity," says Weisz.
"They were both refugees. They lost family. They'd fled the Holocaust and they'd survived, so it was on their minds all the time.
"So, for me, it's a very normal, natural thing to think about. It's my mum and dad, so it was just part of how I was brought up."
NEW YORK, NEW YORK
At our interview in the Fairmont Royal York hotel in Toronto, the beautiful 46-year-old, who had to assume a New York accent and frump herself up for the role, says "the deliciousness of this part was that I got to play someone from Queens, New York, who is culturally very, very New York, very Jewish and who finds herself a fish out of water in London".
She says she would not have been able to play the part without meeting the real Lipstadt.
"She came to my home and we sat in my kitchen, and she told me stories about her childhood and her parents.
"She told me the first words that ever came out of her mouth when she was a little girl was 'me do it'. She's fiercely independent.
"She's very vibrant. She's very colourful. She's got a potty mouth. Yes, it was incredibly important for me to spend hours and hours with her so I could finally go, okay, I can be you."
Shooting at the Auschwitz concentration camp, in Poland, was extremely moving for Weisz.
"I had never been to Auschwitz before and, yes, we did actually film there. It was the first time that they allowed anyone to film outside the perimeter fence looking in. It was extraordinary."
The real Lipstadt stops by our interview for a few minutes.
It is obvious that she and Weisz are good friends. Lipstadt, 69, says she was not familiar with Weisz's work and binge-watched her movies for 48 hours before heartily endorsing her casting.
"This woman is a warrior," says Lipstadt. "One of the best things that's happened to me in this is getting to know Rachel as a person, not just as an amazing actress.
"I am very lucky not only to have had such a talented actor portraying me, but such a mensch (person of integrity), who felt this story and who wanted to get it right."
Weisz has never been willing to answer questions about her husband, actor Daniel Craig, so I ask her about love and relationships in her life.
"I really love my cat, actually," says the Oscar winner, laughing. "I am obsessed with my cat, but that is a really different kind of love from my son. I think a parent's love is pretty, pretty crazily powerful and fierce. I have a big, big love affair with my son, yeah."
The father of her 10-year-old boy, Henry, is director Darren Aronofsky.
Finally, there is something about Craig when we talk about acting and I ask if they talk about the movie business at home.
"We try not to. We tend not to read each other's scripts so it will be a nice surprise when we see the film.
"It can get boring in any profession to be continually talking shop, but I am interested in his work and I am a huge fan of his acting, but we find other things to talk about. You know, world politics, of course!"