Arts and Culture

Jesse Eisenberg plays Marcel Marceau in new film and says he feels connected to the famed mime

(JTA) — American actor Jesse Eisenberg said he was attracted to the World War II movie “Resistance,” in which he portrays Marcel Marceau, because he lost family during World War II from the same area as the late Jewish mime’s family.

The film, scheduled for release in late March, traces the story of Marceau after his family was forced to flee his hometown during the German occupation of France when he was 16.

“When I learned about this story, I think I really connected to it because it’s really the story of this artist kind of finding a way to use his work for the benefit of other people,” Eisenberg told People magazine. “I lost family during the war in these parts of Europe, Marcel’s father is from an area close to where my family is from and where my family died. For so many reasons the story was very potent.”

Marceau was recruited into the French resistance by his cousin, Georges. He began miming to entertain the Jewish orphans they were helping to reach Switzerland in order to keep the children quiet while they were escaping.

“The story is really about this performer Marcel, who is kind of like a fledgling performer doing one-man shows in small theaters,” Eisenberg told People. “And then when the war breaks out, he is asked to help entertain these kids who his cousin is saving and is reluctant at first but then grows to not only like performing for them, but he realizes that the way to save their lives is to use his art and to save them. It’s this really amazing story against the backdrop of some horrific world events.”

Marceau died in 2007 at the age of 84.