Gary Oldman, the veteran British actor perhaps best-known for his portrayal of Commissioner James Gordon in the Christian Bale-topped Batman trilogy offered what he called a “heartfelt” apology Tuesday for comments in which he appeared to defend anti-Semitic remarks made by fellow movie star Mel Gibson.
Oldman’s original comments appeared in the most recent issue of Playboy Magazine, which throughout its history has published hundreds of lengthy, wide-ranging interviews with celebrities and other public figures. In the interview, Oldman — who was launched to Hollywood stardom by his 1986 portrayal of punk rock star Sid Vicious in the biopic Sid and Nancy — attributed the public outcry against Gibson’s anti-Semitic outburst to “political correctness.”
Gibson was arrested in 2006 on a drunk driving charge and during the arrest, the apparently intoxicated Lethal Weapon star unleashed what the police report at the time called “a barrage of anti-Semitic remarks about ‘(profanity redacted) Jews.’” Gibson also declared, “The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world!” and asked the arresting officer, “Are you a Jew?”
In Gary Oldman’s Playboy interview, he dismissed Gibson’s tirade, saying that Gibson, “got drunk and said a few things, but we’ve all said those things.”
Oldman also commented that Hollywood is “a town that’s run by Jews,” and asserted that Jews in Hollywood are themselves secretly bigoted.
“Some Jewish guy in his office somewhere hasn’t turned and said, ‘That f****** kraut’ or ‘F*** those Germans,’ whatever it is? We all hide and try to be so politically correct,” Oldman said.
After his comments drew sharp rebukes from leaders of the Anti-Defamation League and the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Oldman issued his written apology.
“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,” Oldman, or whoever composed the letter to which he signed his name, wrote. “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.”
Oldman is the only star actor in the upcoming Fox Studios film Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, leading some observers, including Washington Post writer Soraya Nadia McDonald, to wonder if the Gary Oldman apology was simply an insincere exercise in damage control.
“Certainly Oldman has some smart PR people around him, probably enlisted by the studio that’s distributing his latest movie, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” McDonald wrote Wednesday. “Some sort of action had to be taken — and quickly, to staunch the tide of people turning against the actor. So Oldman — or someone with a vested interest in the public not hating Oldman (Apes studio 20th Century Fox has at least 120 million reasons why they’d like this to go away ASAP) — wrote an apology to two of the groups that took him to task.”
Gary Oldman directed his apology to the Anti-Defamation League and the Wiesenthal Center.