Famed Hollywood director and actor Mel Gibson found himself at the center of another media storm involving alleged anti-Semitic comments, made during his work on a recent film project.
On Wednesday, the Hollywood blog The Wrap published a letter sent by screenwriter Joe Eszterhas, written after the writer was informed work on a movie depicting the story of Jewish hero Judah Maccabee the two were developing was halted.
In the lengthy letter, Eszterhas, the writer of past hits such as Basic Instinct and Showgirls, said the reason Gibson was discontinuing work on The Maccabees was "the ugliest possible one. You hate Jews."
The Hollywood writer then went to recount Gibson's alleged anti-Semitic comments, saying the director "continually called Jews 'Hebes' and 'oven-dodgers' and 'Jewboys."
"It seemed that most times when we discussed someone, you asked 'He’s a Hebe, isn’t he?' You said most 'gatekeepers' of American companies were 'Hebes' who 'controlled their bosses,'" he added.
Eszterhas went on to allege that Gibson told him that "the Holocaust was 'mostly a lot of horseshit.' You said the Torah made reference to the sacrifice of Christian babies and infants. When I told you that you were confusing the Torah with The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, ... you insisted 'it's in the Torah -- it's in there!' (It isn't)."
"Perhaps most disturbing, as I write the script, was a comment you made to me in your Malibu house. It came out of the blue, while you were playing on the living room floor with your little girl, Luci. 'What I really want to do with this movie,' you said, 'is to convert the Jews to Christianity," Eszterhas' letter, as presented by The Wrap, stated.
Following Eszterhas' missive, Gibson released an open letter, made public through the Deadline website, in which he said "that the great majority of the facts as well as the statements and actions attributed to me in your letter are utter fabrications," claiming that work on The Maccabees was halted since the writer's script was rejected.
Gibson went on to accuse Eszterhas of drawing out the writing project and of delivering an inferior draft of the script, saying: "Honestly, Joe, not only was the script delivered later than you promised, both Warner Brothers and I were extraordinarily disappointed with the draft."
"In 25 years of script development I have never seen a more substandard first draft or a more significant waste of time. The decision not to proceed with you was based on the quality of your script, not on any other factor," he added.
Late last year, the Anti-Defamation League criticized Warner Brothers for reportedly partnering with Gibson for the Maccabee film, faced with Gibson's history of making alleged anti-Semitic remarks publically.
“We would have hoped that Warner Bros. could have found someone better than Mel Gibson to direct or perhaps even star in a film on the life of the Jewish historical icon Judah Maccabee,” ADL National Director Abraham H. Foxman said in a statement.
Foxman continued, saying, “not only has Mel Gibson shown outward antagonism toward Jews and Judaism in his public statements and actions, but his previous attempt to bring biblical history to life on the screen was marred by anti-Semitism.”
The ADL director accused Gibson of showing contempt for both Jewish and Christian leaders who attempted to reason with him about his questionable portrayal of Jews in “The Passion of the Christ”, saying if he had made changes to the film “his passion of hate [may have been turned] into a passion of love”.
Foxman said it would be a “travesty to have the story of the Maccabees told by one who has no respect and sensitivity for other people’s religious views.”
He called on Warner Brothers to reconsider Gibson’s involvement in the project, though he acknowledged the actor’s right to make the film should he choose.