A representative for actor Mel Gibson claimed in a statement Monday evening that the controversial star’s upcoming movie project Rothchild—a film about a fictional ultra-rich, multi-generational family of Jewish bankers—was “completely unrelated” to the Rothschilds, a real life ultra-rich, multi-generational family of Jewish bankers.
“I feel the need to spare you any embarrassment as I’m told this film is about a fictional family (hence the name ‘Rothchild’) vs the Rothschild family to which you are referring,” Gibson’s longtime publicist Alan Nierob wrote in an email. “Completely unrelated to your premise and angle. Hopefully this is helpful to you.” He also sent a summary of the movie for emphasis.
The statement arrived after a backlash erupted Monday morning when Hollywood industry publication Deadline first reported the film’s casting out of the Cannes market. The movie, to be helmed by Stan & Ollie director Jon S. Baird, would follow the lost son of the “Rothchild” family, played by Shia LaBeouf, who, once cast out of the family fold, tries to worm his way back in in order to get a piece of the family fortune. (LaBeouf is himself part-Jewish.)
At the center of the movie, playing the “sinister” patriarch of the “Rothchild” family, is Mel Gibson, the controversial star with a history of using racial slurs and epithets.
Gibson’s checkered track record includes, but is not limited to, making homophobic comments in an interview in 1991; claiming that “the Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world” during a DUI arrest in 2006; calling the Holocaust “a numbers game”; and telling ex-wife Oksana Grigorieva in 2010 that she would be at fault if she got “raped by a pack of n---ers.” He was also the subject of a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department investigation for domestic violence against Grigorieva, after audio surfaced of her accusing him of hitting her, to which he replied: “You fucking deserved it.” (The investigation was later dropped when Gibson pleaded no contest to misdemeanor battery).
The news of Gibson’s casting prompted confusion over why the actor had been hired at all, but especially in a feature loosely based upon a prominent Jewish family whose vast banking fortune has made them the subject of countless conspiracy theories, many of which have anti-Semitic roots.
In correspondence with The Daily Beast, Gibson’s publicist did not address his client’s history of anti-Semitic comments.
Gibson is set to star in several film projects that are selling at the Cannes market this year. Among them is an action feature called Force of Nature, and a Santa Claus comedy called Fatman, with Gibson playing Santa.
The Daily Beast reached Rothchild producers Keith Kjarval of Unified Pictures and Mike Dill of Black Box Management by phone Monday afternoon. Both agreed to send a statement by email, but did not do so in time for publication. CAA, the talent agency that represents Gibson, also declined to comment.
The Anti-Defamation League and the World Jewish Congress did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Neither did representatives for Lynn Forester de Rothschild, David de Rothschild, James de Rothschild, Nicky Hilton de Rothschild, or spokespeople from the Rothschild Foundation.