UPDATE, 6/23/20, 2:11pm ET: A rep for Mel Gibson has denied Winona Ryder‘s allegation, telling HollywoodLife: “This is 100% untrue. She lied about it over a decade ago, when she talked to the press, and she’s lying about it now. Also, she lied about him trying to apologize to her back then. He did reach out to her, many years ago, to confront her about her lies and she refused to address it with him.”
ORIGINAL: Winona Ryder claimed that she once had a disturbing run-in with Mel Gibson, where he allegedly made homophobic and anti-semitic comments. The Stranger Things actress, who is Jewish, was asked by a reporter from The Sunday Times about anti-semitism she’s experienced in the entertainment industry. “We were at a crowded party with one of my good friends,” Winona, 48, said in the interview. “And Mel Gibson was smoking a cigar, and we’re all talking and he said to my friend, who’s gay, ‘Oh wait, am I gonna get AIDS?’
“And then something came up about Jews, and he said, ‘You’re not an oven dodger, are you?’” a reference to how the bodies of Jewish prisoners were incinerated in Nazi concentration camps. Winona said that the Oscar-winner “tried” to apologize for the bigoted comments later. HollywoodLife reached out to Mel’s rep for comment but did not hear back as of press time.
Mel made headlines for a 2006 DUI arrest, during which he said, “The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world,” according to a police report. After the incident, he apologized in a statement shared with The New York Times: “There is no excuse, nor should there be any tolerance, for anyone who thinks or expresses any kind of anti-Semitic remark,” Mel wrote. “I want to apologize specifically to everyone in the Jewish community for the vitriolic and harmful words that I said to a law enforcement officer the night I was arrested on a DUI charge.”
Ten years later, he sang a different tune while speaking to our sister site Variety. “It was an unfortunate incident. I was loaded and angry and arrested. I was recorded illegally by an unscrupulous police officer who was never prosecuted for that crime,” he said on their Playback podcast. “And then it was made public by him for profit, and by members of — we’ll call it the press. So, not fair. I guess as who I am, I’m not allowed to have a nervous breakdown, ever.”
Winona also recalled other examples in her The Sunday Times interview of when she faced discrimination in Hollywood as a Jewish woman. “I have … in interesting ways,” she explained. “There are times when people have said, ‘Wait, you’re Jewish? But you’re so pretty!’ There was a movie that I was up for a long time ago, it was a period piece, and the studio head, who was Jewish, said I looked ‘too Jewish’ to be in a blue-blooded family.”