Surprise, surprise: Gary Oldman apologizes


Gary Oldman, left, and Liam Hemsworth in Relativity Media’s “Paranoia.” (Peter Iovino/Paranoia Productions, LLC)

After being roundly condemned by the Anti-Defamation League and the Simon Wiesenthal Center for what they consider anti-Semitic comments defending Mel Gibson in a Playboy interview, Gary Oldman has apologized with a statement to both groups.

But for some reason, he did not apologize to other groups and people he insulted, including gays, African Americans and Nancy Pelosi.

In the Playboy interview, Oldman went on something of a tirade against what he called “hypocrisy,” and “political correctness,” defending comments made by Alec Baldwin and Gibson that were called homophobic, sexist and racist. The examples he used were on the graphic side.

Oldman also expressed an exasperation with being unable to use slurs for women, gays, blacks and Jews, asserting that everyone privately uses them but are condemned when they say them publicly.

“Gary Oldman wants Jews to ‘get over’ what Mel Gibson said,” said Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. “But what Gibson said was the slogan that Adolf Hitler used to murder six million Jews during the Holocaust. His own comment that Hollywood is a town ‘run by Jews’ has a very familiar sinister ring to it that is the anthem of bigots and anti-Semites everywhere. That has nothing to do with political correctness.”

Deadline obtained a copy of the apology:

Dear Gentlemen of the ADL:

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.

I would like to sign off with ‘Shalom Aleichem’ — but under the circumstances, perhaps today I lose the right to use that phrase, so I will wish you all peace – Gary Oldman.

What’s noticeable is that Oldman didn’t issue a blanket apology that included everyone he insulted.

In an exploration of public apologies, The Washington Post’s Carlos Lozada wrote, “Sure, there’s some perverse pleasure in watching public figures grapple with their transgressions. But high-profile apologies tend to feel so forced and scripted, so much less believable than the original offenses, that it’s hard to see the point of them — let alone distinguish sincerity from PR.”

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.” They must have witnessed the public’s mounting shock and horror after reading about the actor’s sentiments on Monday night. Backlash bubbled across social media and crescendoed Tuesday morning as every media outlet with an Internet connection got a piece of the story. 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.

It certainly wasn’t his manager, Douglas Urbanski, who doubled down in his defense of Oldman. Urbanski attempted to deflate the ballooning crisis in a statement to the Wrap, saying, “In this interview Gary is doing what many intelligent people do: he is illustrating the absurd by being absurd.”

Abraham H. Foxman, executive director of the ADL, said: “Gary Oldman’s remarks irresponsibly feed into a classic anti-Semitic canard about supposed Jewish control of Hollywood and the film industry. He should know better than to repeat and give credence to tired anti-Semitic tropes. Mel Gibson’s ostracization 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.”

“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” comes out on July 11. Oldman isn’t much of a fan of the pageantry of promoting his films anyway. Does he disappear until the premiere — or does 20th Century Fox send him on the talk show circuit for an apology parade?

Related:

STORY: Gary Oldman (Sirius Black) is really steamed that he can’t use crude obscenities to describe Nancy Pelosi, among others

Actor Gary Oldman covered political correctness, Mel Gibson, Hollywood, Hillary Clinton and more in his interview with Playboy magazine. (Tom LeGro and Natalie Jennings/The Washington Post)
Soraya Nadia McDonald covers arts, entertainment and culture for the Washington Post with a focus on race and gender issues.
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