Oscar-nominated actor Gary Oldman has been slammed by an anti-Semitism watchdog for claiming Hollywood is "run by Jews" and urging the movie industry to "get over" Mel Gibson’s racist rant of 2006.
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Gary Oldman believes that fellow actors Mel Gibson and Alec Baldwin should be forgiven over their past anti-Semitic and homophobic comments.
In a disastrous interview with Playboy magazine, Oldman also defended actor Alec Baldwin for allegedly "calling someone an F-A-G in the street", and complained that he is not allowed as much leeway as satirical news presenters.
"If I called [US Democratic House Leader] Nancy Pelosi a c-- – and I’ll go one better, a f---ing useless c-- – I can’t really say that," Oldman said. "But Bill Maher and Jon Stewart can, and nobody’s going to stop them working because of it. Bill Maher could call someone a fag and get away with it."
The 56-year-old English star made the comments while promoting his latest movie, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.
He then told Playboy interviewer David Hochman: "You have to edit and cut half of what I said because it’s going to make me sound like a bigot."
Oldman has just released a statement in which he says he is "deeply remorseful" for his "insensitive" comments and offers his "heartfelt, genuine" apology". His statement also included the claim: "The Jewish People, persecuted thorough the ages, are the first to hear God’s voice, and surely are the chosen people."
Oldman’s manager, Douglas Urbanski, earlier accused Playboy of publishing a "cherry-picked piece".
"This notion that he’s defending Alec and Mel is preposterous. Gary Oldman would not defend hate speech or any divisive speech. The piece lacked a kind of balance on that regard," Urbanski added.
The magazine denies publishing an unbalanced article – claiming other media outlets have done the cherry-picking – and has urged "everyone to read his interview in its entirety and make up their own minds".
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In the interview, Oldman asserted that everyone has expressed sentiments similar to those made by Gibson during his infamous roadside rant.
"He got drunk and said a few things but we’ve all said those things," Oldman told Playboy. "We’re all f---ing hypocrites. The policeman who arrested him has never used the word 'nigger' or 'that f---ing Jew'? I’m being brutally honest here. It’s the hypocrisy of it that drives me crazy."
Gibson was arrested eight years ago in Malibu for suspected drink-driving. Somehow, the situation devolved from the film star being asked for his licence and registration to him declaring: "F---ing Jews. The Jews are responsible for all the wars in world."
Oldman told Playboy: "Mel Gibson is in a town that’s run by Jews and he said the wrong thing because he’s actually bitten the hand that I guess has fed him – and doesn’t need to feed him any more because he’s got enough dough. He’s like an outcast, a leper, you know?
"But some Jewish guy in his office somewhere hasn’t turned and said, 'That f---ing kraut' or 'F--- those Germans', whatever it is? We all hide and try to be so politically correct. That’s what gets me. It’s just the sheer hypocrisy of everyone; that we all stand on this thing going, 'Isn’t that shocking?'"
When asked what he thought Gibson has gone through over the past few years, Oldman replied: "I just think political correctness is crap. That’s what I think about it. I think it’s like, 'Take a f---ing joke. Get over it'."
Anti-Defamation League director Abraham H Foxman said Oldman "should know better than to repeat tired anti-Semitic tropes about the Jewish control of Hollywood".
"Mel Gibson's ostracisation in Hollywood was not a matter of being 'politically incorrect', as Mr Oldman suggests, but of paying the consequences for outing himself as a bigot and a hater. It is disturbing that Mr Oldman appears to have bought into Mr Gibson’s warped and prejudiced world view."
Oldman also said he did not blame 30 Rock actor Alec Baldwin for allegedly calling a paparazzo a "fag" – though Baldwin alleges he called the photographer a "fathead"’ – after being snapped outside his apartment.
"Alec calling someone an F-A-G in the street while he’s pissed off coming out of his building because they won’t leave him alone?" Oldman said. "I don’t blame him. So they persecute."
While Oldman appears to be arguing that Hollywood should give Gibson a second chance – though his agent denies that he defended Gibson at all – Gibson himself is poised to receive a much-needed image boost. The Lethal Weapon star will receive a lifetime achievement honour at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival next week, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
But not everyone will be impressed, it seems. James Mee, the policemen who arrested Gibson in 2006, has slammed Oldman’s remarks, saying the actor’s speculation about his use of words such as "nigger" or "f---ing Jew" is wrong.
"I’m Jewish and why would I say that to discredit my own religious make-up?" Mee said. "The n-word is a scary word. I would never even dream of using it. It sickens me that anyone would use that word. Jews have been persecuted and put down over the years. Why would I, as a Jew, do that to other races?"
He said of Oldman: "I feel sorry for people that need to say things about other people in order to justify themselves."
Oldman's apology in full reads:
Dear Gentlemen of the ADL:
I am deeply remorseful that comments I recently made in the Playboy Interview were offensive to many Jewish people. Upon reading my comments in print— I see how insensitive they may be, and how they may indeed contribute to the furtherance of a false stereotype. Anything that contributes to this stereotype is unacceptable, including my own words on the matter. If, during the interview, I had been asked to elaborate on this point I would have pointed out that I had just finished reading Neal Gabler’s superb book about the Jews and Hollywood, An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews invented Hollywood. The fact is that our business, and my own career specifically, owes an enormous debt to that contribution.
I hope you will know that this apology is heartfelt, genuine, and that I have an enormous personal affinity for the Jewish people in general, and those specifically in my life. The Jewish People, persecuted thorough the ages, are the first to hear God’s voice, and surely are the chosen people.
I would like to sign off with “Shalom Aleichem” — but under the circumstances, perhaps today I lose the right to use that phrase, so I will wish you all peace – Gary Oldman.
- With WIRES