Mel Gibson's rep says Winona Ryder is 'lying' about claim he once made anti-Semitic, homophobic comments to her

Suzy Byrne
Editor, Yahoo Entertainment
Mel Gibson's rep says Winona Ryder is 'lying' about claim he once made anti-Semitic, homophobic comments to her

Winona Ryder has less than fond memories of a long-ago conversation she had with Mel Gibson.

In a wide-ranging interview with the Sunday Times, the Stranger Things actress, 48, acknowledged that she has experienced anti-Semitism throughout her life and long-lasting Hollywood career. Ryder (born Winona Horowitz) recalled a conversation with Gibson, circa 1996, that she claimed was riddled with derogatory comments. While Gibson’s rep told Yahoo Entertainment that Ryder is “lying,” Ryder, through her publicist, is sticking to her story — one she’s told since 2010.

Ryder told the media outlet it is “hard” to discuss anti-Semitism “because I had family who died in the [concentration] camps.” She went on to share that she’s experienced the prejudice in “interesting ways,” noting there have been “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.”

Ryder, who said she’s “not religious, but I do identify,” then recalled being “at a crowded party with one of my good friends, and [Gibson] was smoking a cigar and we’re all talking, and he said to my friend,” who we now know was the late makeup artist Kevyn Aucoin, “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?’” Ryder, shaking her head at the recollection, said Gibson, 64, “tried” to apologize at a later date.

This wasn’t the first time Ryder told the story. In 2010 — four years after Gibson’s infamous Malibu drunken driving arrest (during which he ranted about “the Jews” being responsible for “all the wars in the world”) and the same year he used the N-word and a derogatory term for Latinos during a recorded conversation with his ex Oksana Grigorieva — Ryder told GQ, “I remember, like, fifteen years ago, I was at one of those big Hollywood parties. And [Gibson] was really drunk. I was with my friend, who's gay. He made a really horrible gay joke. And somehow it came up that I was Jewish. He said something about ‘oven dodgers,’ but I didn’t get it. I’d never heard that before. It was just this weird, weird moment. I was like, ‘He’s anti-Semitic and he's homophobic.’ No one believed me!”

On Tuesday, Gibson, through his spokesperson, patently denied that this exchange ever took place — and called Ryder a liar.

“This is 100% untrue,” a rep for Gibson told Yahoo Entertainment. “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.”

However, Ryder, through her publicist, maintains her account of being on the receiving end of Gibson’s “hateful words” along with Aucoin, a famous makeup artist, photographer and author.

“I believe in redemption and forgiveness and hope that Mr. Gibson has found a healthy way to deal with his demons, but I am not one of them,” Ryder said Tuesday in a statement. “Around 1996, my friend Kevyn Aucoin and I were on the receiving end of his hateful words. It is a painful and vivid memory for me. Only by accepting responsibility for our behavior in this life, can we make amends and truly respect each other, and I wish him well on this lifelong journey.”

Amid this so-called “cancel culture” we’re in, Gibson’s history keeps being recalled as he has largely continued to work despite what transpired during his arrest, for which he apologized, and with Grigorieva, whom he also pleaded guilty to physically abusing. In fact, in 2017 he was recognized with an Academy Award nomination for directing Hacksaw Ridge.

Each time he lands a new gig, like directing The Wild Bunch, expected in 2022, the criticism is resurfaced. However, this year alone he will appear in four films, according to IMDb, including playing an “unorthodox Santa Claus” in Fat Man. He’s also expected to direct a sequel to The Passion of the Christ.

What has seemingly changed is Gibson’s participation in Chicken Run. While he originated the role of Rocky in 2000, he will not voice the character in the sequel, two individuals with knowledge of the production told The Wrap on Tuesday. However, it’s unclear if any of the other voice actors from the original film will be returning.

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