On this day: Mel Gibson’s ‘antisemitic’ rant

July 28 2006: An actor falls from grace

By Jennifer Lipman, July 28, 2011

Mel Gibson was the toast of Hollywood – had been for years – when he was stopped by a police officer in Malibu, California. He was arrested for drunk driving and launched into an attack on the officer - who was Jewish.

He allegedly shouted: "F***king Jews…the Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world".

What followed was a media circus, as reports of the comments appeared on gossip site TMZ. The comments also came two years after the release of The Passion, a film about the life of Jesus directed by Gibson, which came under fire for suggesting that Jews were responsible for the crucifixion.

Before that film, Gibosn had been known for his strident and conservative views; the product perhaps of his father, a traditionalist Catholic who once told the New York Times that the Holocaust had not occurred.

Gibson, who was ordered to seek treatment for alcohol addiction by the court, was put on probation. He later said he was deeply ashamed of everything he had said, dismissing them as the "ramblings of a drunkard".

In July 2010 he was accused of making a sexist and violent comment to his ex, Oksana Grigorieva.

As that scandal died down, Jewish actress Winona Ryder told an interviewer that at a party in the 1990s, he had made a joke about the Holocaust to her. "He was really drunk," she said. "Somehow it came up that I was Jewish. He said something about 'oven dodgers', but I didn't get it."

What the JC said: The slur turned a fairly routine celebrity transgression into an international cause célèbre, triggering both indignant denunciations and a raft of jokes on late-night TV shows. In a susprise legal move, Gibson's attorney appeared on behalf of his famous client in Malibu's Superior Court last Thursday and pleaded no contest to a single misdemeanor count of driving with a blood-alcohol level above the legal limit.

See more from the JC archives here

Last updated: 9:18am, July 28 2011