Gary Oldman in row over 'Hollywood run by Jews' claim

Michael Thurston
Actor Gary Oldman arrives for the Los Angeles premiere of "Robocop" at TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, California on February 10, 2014 (AFP Photo/Robyn Beck)

Los Angeles (AFP) - British actor Gary Oldman was locked in a bitter row with a Jewish lobby group Wednesday after claiming that Hollywood is "run by Jews" and defending Mel Gibson over a notorious anti-Semitic rant.

The 56-year-old apologized to the Anti-Defamation League and Jewish rights group the Simon Wiesenthal Center, saying he has "an enormous personal affinity for the Jewish people."

But the ADL dismissed his "insufficient" apology -- a comment rejected by Oldman's manager, who hailed the "downright elegant" apology.

"I am deeply remorseful that comments I recently made in the Playboy interview were offensive to many Jewish people," Oldman said of his interview with Playboy magazine.

"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."

The "Dark Knight" star made the controversial comments when talking about Gibson's notorious 2006 anti-Semitic rant at a US sheriff's deputy who had arrested him for drunken driving.

"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," Oldman told the men's magazine.

"I just think political correctness is crap."

The ADL said Oldman "should know better than to repeat tired anti-Semitic tropes about Jewish control of Hollywood."

The LA-based Simon Wiesenthal Center's founder, Rabbi Marvin Hier, added that Oldman's comment that Jews run Hollywood "has a very familiar sinister ring to it that is the anthem of bigots and anti-Semites everywhere."

In his apology, Oldman said anything that contributes to that stereotype is "unacceptable."

"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," he added.

"The Jewish people, persecuted (throughout) the ages, are the first to hear God's voice, and surely are the chosen people."

But ADL head Abraham Foxman said the apology was not enough.

"While his apology may be heartfelt, Mr Oldman does not understand why his words about Jewish control were so damaging and offensive, and it is therefore insufficient," Foxman said, stressing that celebrities have an "outsized" responsibility to speak and act appropriately.

"Oldman needs to make clear not only to the Jewish community but also his fans that his words are predicated on offensive notions and, as such, are clearly unacceptable."

Oldman's manager Douglas Urbanski issued a terse retort.

"Gary's apology seemed pretty deeply sincere and downright elegant to me. I guess people themselves can decide," he said in an email to AFP.

The Wiesenthal Center, meanwhile, said it had not formally received Oldman's apology.

"We've not received an apology directly from either him or his representatives. We've seen excerpts in the press, but so far not the entire apology," said spokeswoman Marcial Lavina.