United States / 12-04-2012
'You hate Jews' - Mel Gibson under fire after his 'Jewish Braveheart' shelved
Mel Gibson's antisemitic tirade has come roaring back to life after his planned film about a Jewish uprising by Judah Maccabee was shelved, triggering a nasty war of words between the film-maker and his screenwriter.
Joe Eszterhas, who made his name with scripts for Basic Instinct and Showgirls, claims Gibson never wanted to make the film in the first place because: "You hate Jews."
In a nine-page letter to Gibson, which was published by The Wrap, Eszterhas accused the film-maker of denying the Holocaust as "'mostly a lot of horses**t" and continually called Jewish people "Hebes and oven-dodgers and Jewboys".
He even touches on Gibson's bust-up with his ex-girlfriend, Oksana Gregorieva, saying Gibson had explicitly threatened to kill her.
The film, which was to tell the story of tell the story of Judaism's most famous figures and was promoted by Gibson as the Jewish Braveheart, was ditched by Warner Bros after they read a first draft of the script.
In a statement, Warners said the script for The Maccabees lacked "feeling" and a "sense of triumph".
Smarting from the rejection, Eszterhas laid the blame for the project's collapse at Gibson's feet.
"I've come to the conclusion that the reason you won’t make ‘The Maccabees’ is the ugliest possible one. You hate Jews," he said.
He accused Gibson of taking on the project "to deflect continuing charges of anti-Semitism which have dogged you, charges which have crippled your career", and to "convert the Jews to Christianity".
He said Gibson was "was wild, crazed, and explosive".
"You 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.'
"You said the Holocaust was 'mostly a lot of horses**t.' 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)."
Gibson countered Eszterhas' accusations with his own letter, in which he alleged the script was "substandard" and "a waste of time".
"Contrary to your assertion that I was only developing Maccabees to burnish my tarnished reputation, I have been working on this project for over 10 years and it was publicly announced 8 years ago. I absolutely want to make this movie; it’s just that neither Warner Brothers nor I want to make this movie based on your script."
Gibson's career has been on the rocks ever since his arrest for drink driving in 2006. He asked the police officer who pulled him over whether he was Jewish and then said: "F***ing Jews. The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world."
His attempt at a comeback in 2010 was marred by the release of taped phone calls between between him and Gregorieva and Gibson in which he repeatedly threatened her life and made racial slurs.
Gibson, whose father holds antisemitic views, was also accused of spreading antisemitism with his film The Passion of the Christ. Many critics believe his literal translation of the Gospels reignited anti-Jewish feeling.
Jewish leaders have not been happy with Gibson's involvement in a film version of one of the most pivotal events in Jewish history. The Anti-Defamation League had 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".
Eszterhas himself has a family association with antisemitism, with his father charged with distributing hate propaganda in Hungary. He mined this material for a 1989 movie Music Box about a woman whose father is guilty of war crimes.
The screenwriter and author's latest book is about his return to the Roman Catholic Church after surviving throat cancer diagnosed in 2001.