Gary Oldman caused a stir today with the release of a new Playboy interview in which the 56-year-old Dawn of the Planet of the Apes co-star defends Mel Gibson as a victim of political correctness run amok. When asked about Gibson, who, when arrested for drunk driving in 2006, famously yelled anti-semitic remarks at the police, Oldman said, “He got drunk and said a few things, but we’ve all said those things. We’re all f—-ing hypocrites. That’s what I think about it. The policeman who arrested him has never used the word n—-er or that f—-ing Jew? I’m being brutally honest here. It’s the hypocrisy of it that drives me crazy.” (The officer in question, former Deputy James Mee, has already refuted Oldman’s theory to TMZ, saying, “I’m Jewish and why would I say that to discredit my own religious makeup?… Jews have been persecuted and put down over the years. Why would I, as a Jew, do that to other races?”)
Oldman continued to Playboy: “Mel Gibson is in a town that’s run by Jews and he said the wrong thing because he’s actually bitten the hand that I guess has fed him — and doesn’t need to feed him anymore because he’s got enough dough. He’s like an outcast, a leper, you know? But some Jewish guy in his office somewhere hasn’t turned and said, ‘That f—-ing kraut’ or ‘F—- those Germans,’ whatever it is? We all hide and try to be so politically correct. That’s what gets me. It’s just the sheer hypocrisy of everyone, that we all stand on this thing going, ‘Isn’t that shocking?’”
The actor’s words have reverberated across the Internet, which he seemed to see coming as soon as he’d uttered them; right after he finished talking about Gibson, he told the journalist, “So this interview has gone very badly. You have to edit and cut half of what I’ve said, because it’s going to make me sound like a bigot.”
Oldman rarely censors himself in interviews. Sometimes that manifests itself in not playing coy when promoting a film: Back in February, he went into great detail with MTV about his character in the upcoming Dawn of the Planet of the Apes before the film’s campaign really started. And while most actors don’t talk about upcoming projects before they’re cemented, he told Sky News in February that he’d been called about being in J.J. Abrams’ new Star Wars film, though nothing was official. (As of now, it looks like nothing ever came of it.) But his latest words go beyond just breaking publicity protocol, and are likely to reverberate in Hollywood in a much more powerful way.
But Oldman has said before that he thinks his right-leaning views have already damaged him in show business. In a 2009 GQ interview, he related a complimentary phone call about The Contender that he’d received from Dustin Hoffman — and said the actor went on to warn Oldman that a “big Hollywood exec” had told Hoffman that “Gary Oldman is extreme right wing, and he’s a fascist,” and added, “Just a word to the wise, you’ve got to be very careful; there’s this thing out there that you’re this… I don’t know what you’ve been saying, but you’ve got to be very careful.” (Hoffman told GQ he did not remember this part of the conversation.) After telling the story, Oldman said, “I felt terrible that they were saying those things about me. ‘Crazy, scary Gary’—now I’m ‘Crazy, scary, fascist Gary.’” When asked about his politics, he winkingly said, “I’m slightly left of Genghis Khan,” but then clarified that, “I’m with some things on the left, and I’m with some things on the right.”
UPDATE: The Anti-Defamation League condemned Oldman’s remarks. “Gary Oldman’s remarks irresponsibly feed into a classic anti-Semitic canard about supposed Jewish control of Hollywood and the film industry,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. “He should know better than to repeat and give credence to tired anti-Semitic tropes. Mel Gibson’s ostracization in Hollywood was not a matter of being ‘politically incorrect,’ as Mr. Oldman suggests, but of paying the consequences for outing himself as a bigot and a hater.”