Gary Oldman has apologised for offending Jewish people after a US campaign group accused the Oscar-nominated British actor of peddling antisemitic stereotypes in a conversation about the disgraced star Mel Gibson.
Oldman said that he was "deeply remorseful" that comments made in a recent interview with Playboy magazine had caused distress. His apology came after the Anti-Defamation League issued a statement on Tuesday rebuking the actor for stating: "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."
Oldman said in a statement: "I am deeply remorseful that comments I recently made in the Playboy interview were offensive to many Jewish people. Upon reading my comments in print I see how insensitive they may be, and how they may indeed contribute to the furtherance of a false stereotype. 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.
"I hope you will know that this apology is heartfelt, genuine, and that I have an enormous personal affinity for the Jewish people in general, and those specifically in my life. The Jewish people, persecuted thorough the ages, are the first to hear God's voice, and surely are the chosen people."
Oldman's original comments in Playboy referenced Gibson's 2006 arrest for drunk driving, during which the Lethal Weapon star told his Jewish arresting officer: "Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world." Oldman appeared to blame "political correctness" for Gibson's subsequent experience of being ostracised in Hollywood and said that everyone had used similar epithets in their private moments. He framed his comments about Gibson in a wider polemic about hypocrisy in Hollywood and the decline of western culture as a whole.
In its statement on Tuesday, the Anti-Defamation League's director, Abraham H Foxman, said that Oldman "should know better than to repeat tired antisemitic tropes about Jewish control of Hollywood". Foxman added: "Mel Gibson's ostracisation 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. It is disturbing that Mr Oldman appears to have bought into Mr Gibson's warped and prejudiced world view."
The League said on Wednesday afternoon that it was minded not to accept Oldman's apology, though it said discussions were ongoing. Foxman said in a statement to the Guardian: "We have just began a conversation with his managing producer. At this point, we are not satisfied with what we received. His apology is insufficient and not satisfactory."
During the Playboy interview Oldman also questioned whether Gibson's arresting officer back in 2006 might himself have occasionally used racial epithets. He asked: "The policeman who arrested him has never used the word nigger or that fucking Jew?"
In an interview with gossip site TMZ, the officer in question denied ever using such language. "I'm Jewish, and why would I say that to discredit my own religious makeup?" said former LA County sheriff's deputy James Mee. "The N-word is a scary word. I would never even dream of using it. It sickens me that anyone would use that word."
He added: "I feel sorry for people that need to say things about other people in order to justify themselves."
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010