Academy Award winning actress Helen Mirren’s latest role as a retired Israeli Mossad agent in the film “The Debt” required some serious research on her part about the Holocaust. She went so far as to visit Germany’s Buchenwald concentration camp to prepare for the part. “I did a lot of reading about the Holocaust to remind myself of how dark that time was and how important it is to the Israeli people … especially the young Israeli people of the 1960s. It was still very fresh in their memories, so it’s an incredibly intense, emotional thing to have to live with. And I had to remind myself of that,” Mirren told ABC News.com at a special screening of the film in New York City.
Mirren plays retired agent Rachel in this remake of the original Israeli thriller “Ha Hov,” which was released in 2007. The story (with flashbacks between 1997 and 1965/1966) centers around three Israeli Mossad secret agents: Rachel (played by Jessica Chastain/Helen Mirren), Stephan (played by Marton Csokas/Tom Wilkinson), and David (played by Sam Worthington/Ciaran Hinds). In the 60s, they embarked on a secret mission to track down and kidnap a Nazi war criminal, Dieter Vogel. Vogel is the feared surgeon of Birkenau (played by Jesper Christensen). At great risk, the team’s mission was accomplished … or was it?
Thirty years later, Rachel (Mirren) is back in the spotlight. Her daughter publishes a book about Rachel’s heroism. At the book party, as Rachel reads an excerpt from the book, the viewer is transported back to the 60's and learns of the critical mission the agents took on.
“It’s very rare that you get a really good, believable story in film nowadays, and I thought this was one of them”, Mirren said.
The director of the film, Academy Award nominee John Madden, told viewers why they should go to the theaters and see the film. “They don’t come along like this. This is a really fantastic thriller … a really provocative, dramatic story”, he said.
“The Debt” is now in theaters nationwide.