Did you know that Mel Gibson has a history of making horrifically bigoted and anti-Semitic remarks?
Probably. There was his infamous arrest in 2006, when he said, among other things, that “The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world,” per TMZ. Gibson apologized at the time, but in recent interviews has sounded more angry that he got caught than anything else.
A few years later he reportedly told the mother of his child, “You look like a fucking pig in heat and if you get raped by a pack of n—ers it will be your fault.” (Gibson’s rep declined to comment at the time.)
The screenwriter for Gibson’s film about Jewish icon Judah Maccabee, Joe Eszterhas, wrote in a leaked letter that Gibson routinely used terms including “Hebes,” “oven dodgers,” and “Jew-boys” to describe Jewish people, and that he’d said the Holocaust was “mostly a lot of horseshit.”
In his own letter, Gibson denied the allegations—though his father, it’s worth noting, infamously told The New York Times that he believed the Holocaust’s death toll was inflated.
And now another story has resurfaced: in a recent interview with The Sunday Times, Winona Ryder recalled a conversation she had with Gibson while at a party with a friend. “Mel Gibson was smoking a cigar, and we’re all talking and he said to my friend, who’s gay, ‘Oh wait, am I gonna get AIDS?’” Ryder said. “And then something came up about Jews, and he said, ‘You’re not an oven dodger, are you?’”
Ryder said that at a later date, Gibson tried to apologize.
As the interview has begun to circulate on social media, outrage over Gibson’s anti-Semitism has spread anew. But this is not even the first time Ryder has told this story. In fact, she told The Guardian the exact same anecdote a decade ago.
“I was at one of those big Hollywood parties,” Ryder said in 2010. “And he was really drunk... I was with my friend, who’s gay. [Gibson] made a really horrible gay joke. And somehow it came up that I was Jewish. He said something about ‘oven dodgers,’ but I didn’t get it. I’d never heard that before.”
A representative for Gibson provided The Daily Beast the following statement: “This is 100% untrue. She lied about it over a decade ago, when she talked to the press, and she’s lying about it now. Also, she lied about him trying to apologize to her back then. He did reach out to her, many years ago, to confront her about her lies and she refused to address it with him.”
Despite all these sordid anecdotes, Gibson has enjoyed a steady flow of work over the years. After a few years off-screen following his widely publicized arrest rant in 2006, he returned in 2010 with the crime thriller Edge of Darkness and has released at least one new film almost every year since. In fact, his IMDb page includes four listings for 2020—Force of Nature, due out at the end of this month, and three films in post-production, Boss Level, Fatman, and Last Looks. It’s unclear how many more stories the entertainment industry needs to hear before this changes—but given the way things have played out so far, we can likely expect Ryder will have to tell this story again in 2030.