×

Interview: ADL Head Says Gary Oldman’s Apology Reinforces Anti-Semitism

Anti-Defamation League head Abraham Foxman said he doesn’t buy Gary Oldman’s apology, claiming his statement Wednesday reinforces anti-Semitic stereotypes.

“I think he feels bad about what he said, but the way he explains it underlines why he said what he said,” Foxman told Variety. “I’d like to see a little more introspection, a little more understanding and a little more education rather than a statement that looks like a PR move.”

The Oscar-nominated actor is in hot water over a recent Playboy interview in which he said that Mel Gibson’s career had cooled off because he worked “in a town that’s run by Jews” and “he’s actually bitten the hand that I guess has fed him.” Oldman was arguing that comedians get away with making politically incorrect jokes, but that Gibson and Alec Baldwin suffer far graver consequences for remarks that religious and minority groups find offensive.

Gibson and Baldwin have been criticized for using epithets that are anti-Jewish and anti-gay, respectively.

On Tuesday, Oldman apologized for his remarks in an open letter to the ADL.

“I see how insensitive they may be, and how they may indeed contribute to the furtherance of a false stereotype,” Oldman said in a statement. “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.”

Foxman said that Oldman’s decision to mention the impact that Jewish artists and business people have had on the film industry in terms of their religious affiliation perpetrates the deleterious stereotype that they control the media business.

“The issue is not that there are Jews in Hollywood,” said Foxman. “Of course there are, but they don’t act as Jews. They’re producers, directors, actors and financial people who happen to be Jewish. It just continue this myth of Jewish control and this concept that they all get together at Katz’s Deli and decide what Hollywood’s message should be.”

Foxman said that Oldman’s remarks about Baldwin and comment, “fuck the Pope” (which appears to have been meant in jest), showed he suffered from other prejudices.

“He’s got homophobia problems, he’s got Catholic problems,” Foxman said. “He’s got a problem seeing people in stereotypical terms.”

Douglas Urbanski, Oldman’s manager and producing partner, released a statement earlier this week blasting the media for taking the actor’s comments out of context and painting him as a bigot. In an email to Variety, he hit back at Foxman’s claims that Oldman is homophobic and anti-Catholic.

“I am a hardcore Catholic and also his best friend,” Urbanski wrote. “In the 9 hours of the interview, Gary endorsed gay marriage — that was omitted from the piece.”

“On the topic of Mel Gibson, Gary specifically does not ‘defend’ him or anti-Semitism,” he added. “Noteworthy, however, is that other artists — specifically Robert Downey Jr. and Jodie Foster — have loudly defended Mel Gibson spanning the past few years.”

More Film

  • Neve CampbellVariety's Power of Women NY

    Neve Campbell Seeking SAG-AFTRA Board Seat on Matthew Modine Slate (EXCLUSIVE)

    Neve Campbell is running for a SAG-AFTRA national board seat as a member of presidential candidate Matthew Modine’s progressive Membership First slate. Campbell is best known for starring as Sidney Prescott in the “Scream” movies and as LeAnn Harvey in “House of Cards.” Her credits include “Skyscraper,” “Wild Things” and “The Craft.” Election ballots will [...]

  • Themba-Bhebhe

    Durban FilmMart’s Themba Bhebhe on Diversity: ‘We Are At a Crossroads’

    DURBAN–A new thematic strand at this year’s Durban FilmMart, Engage @ DFM, offers a series of think tanks and in-depth discussions concerning diversity and de-colonial approaches to and models for filmmaking. To head up the new initiative, the DFM tapped guest curator Themba Bhebhe, who has led the Diversity & Inclusion initiative at the last two editions of [...]

  • Durban Film Festival 2019 / Copyright

    South African Creatives Grapple Over Copyright Amendment Bill

    DURBAN–The South African government is planning to update its four-decade-old copyright legislation, but what that means for filmmakers was up for debate during a contentious and often heated session at the Durban FilmMart this week. While the Copyright Amendment Bill awaits the signature of President Cyril Ramaphosa, industry stakeholders remain divided over how the proposed [...]

  • 'The Lion King' Ruling Box Office

    'The Lion King' Ruling Box Office With Dazzling Debut at $180 Million

    Disney’s “The Lion King” has jolted the North American box office back to life with an opening weekend in the $180 million range, estimates showed Saturday. “The Lion King” will record the second-best opening of 2019 — and could replace “Incredibles 2,” which launched last year with $182.7 million, as the ninth biggest North American [...]

  • 'Tomb Raider' Star Simon Yam in

    'Tomb Raider' Star Simon Yam in Hospital After Stabbing

    Hugely popular Hong Kong actor, Simon Yam was stabbed while on stage Saturday at a presentation in Zhongshan, Guangdong province in southern China. He is in hospital recovering. The incident happened at the opening of a branch of the Beijing Easyhome building materials company, where Yam was a guest. A man was seen rushing on [...]

  • Brazilian President Jair Bolosnaro attends the

    Bolsonaro Threatens Brazil’s Central Film Fund with Censorship or Closure

    In typical shoot-from-the-hip remarks, Brazil’s far-right president Jair Bolsonaro has declared that Ancine, Brazil’s powerful state-backed federal film agency, should accept “filters”or face closure. “If it can’t have a filter, we’ll close Ancine, or privatize it,” Bolsonaro added, attacking Ancine, which plows some $300 million a year into Brazil’s film and TV industries, for supporting [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content