January 24, 2006

Olympic orphan depicts dad in Spielberg’s ‘Munich’

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - For aspiring Israeli actor Guri
Weinberg, the big break in Hollywood was mixed with heartbreak.

The 33-year-old appears in Steven Spielberg's new thriller
"Munich" as his own father, Moshe Weinberg, a weightlifter who
was the first of 11 athletes killed in a Palestinian guerrilla
raid against Israel's delegation to the 1972 Olympic Games.

Many Israelis, including Weinberg's widow, have taken issue
with the film's portrayal of the assassination campaign
launched by the Jewish state against suspected masterminds of
the Munich attack, accusing Spielberg of equating the two

But Guri Weinberg on Tuesday credited his brief, bloody
turn on screen -- shot while trying to fend off the
hostage-takers -- as an opportunity to connect with the father
he never knew.

"All my life, I heard stories about dad, but it was just
words. In acting it out, everything suddenly became real," he
said in an interview with the Israeli Web site YNetNews.

"For many years I was angry with him, thinking to myself
that had he not put up a struggle, maybe I would still have a
dad," Weinberg said. "When we made the film, I understood for
the first time that he had to do what he did, and that he
didn't have any chance of getting out of there alive."

Weinberg recounted how the actor playing the Palestinian
gunman who "killed" him burst out crying and hugged him as soon
as Spielberg finished filming the scene.

"The Arab actors were very nice. They told me that they
hated what happened at Munich, and they wanted me to know it,"
he said.

Weinberg moved to Los Angeles at age 14 to become an actor,
a career that he said was much boosted by "Munich."

His mother was far less positive about Spielberg's film,
which opened in the United States last month and reaches much
of Europe this week. It will open in Israel on January 26.

"I didn't want people to see the film, despite the fact
that my son acts in it," Mimi Weinberg told YNetNews.

"This film does not distinguish between those who murder
peaceful civilians in their sleep and those who killed the
murderers," she said. "With Jews like Spielberg and
(screenwriter Tony) Kushner, who needs enemies?"

Spielberg has denied seeking to criticize Israel's security
tactics, calling the film his "prayer for peace." The widows of
two other slain Olympians endorsed "Munich" after the director
arranged for them to attend a special preview in Tel Aviv.