Anger over Mel Gibson playing Jewish patriarch in new movie 'Rothchild'

Ben Arnold
Contributor
Mel Gibson (Credit: Michael Tran/FilmMagic)

Mel Gibson and Shia LaBeouf are set to star in a new black comedy called Rothchild, in which a child disowned at birth seeks to seize the riches of his wealthy New York family.

But with Gibson playing the family's patriarch, Whitelaw Rothchild, the villain of the movie, there is simmering anger over the casting.

Gibson was famously shunned by Hollywood for almost a decade after a drunken, anti-semitic rant at a police officer in 2006.

Read more: Seth Rogen slams Mel Gibson over Hollywood comeback

The Australian actor was being arrested for drink driving when he released the invective, saying: “F**king Jews... the Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world. Are you a Jew?”

Gibson called his behaviour 'despicable' and blamed it on his dependence on alcohol at the time.

But he was once again criticised after a later non-apology in an interview with Variety in 2016.

“It was an unfortunate incident,” he said. “I was loaded and angry and arrested. I was recorded illegally by an unscrupulous police officer who was never prosecuted for that crime. 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.”

“10 years have gone by. I’m feeling good. I’m sober, all of that kind of stuff, and for me it’s a dim thing in the past. But others bring it up, which kind of I find annoying, because I don’t understand why after 10 years it’s any kind of issue.”

Many have expressed consternation that Gibson has been welcomed back into the movie industry after the incident, as well as another, in which threatening and abusive audio recordings of arguments he had with his ex-partner Oksana Grigorieva were released during the custody battle of their daughter.

Only last week, Seth Rogen slammed another recently announced role for Gibson, in the movie Fatman, in which he'll play a 'rowdy Santa'.

He tweeted simply: “Ho Ho Holocaust denier.”

And now he's been similarly pilloried for this role too.

Though many have drawn the connection, it appears that the movie is not based on the famous Rothschild family, but one of a similar - almost identical - name.

The movie will find LaBeouf, the bastard child of a New York heiress and a jazz musician, despatching the nine family members who stand in the way of his fortune, including his grandfather, played by Gibson.

Made from a Black List script by John Patton Ford, and helmed by Stan & Ollie director Jon S. Baird, it's described as 'a satirical and thrilling ride' by its producers.

Gibson has another forthcoming role too, in another Black List thriller called Black Flies.