Controversial Jeffrey Epstein joke leaves Hollywood stars wincing at Golden Globes

Audience groaned as comedian controversially referred to six Hollywood stars who were spuriously named in unsealed records

Jacob Stolworthy
Monday 08 January 2024 04:42 GMT
Comedian Jim Gaffigan makes daring Jeffrey Epstein reference at Golden Globes 2024

Comedian Jim Gaffigan addressed the controversy surrounding the unsealed Jeffrey Epstein records at the 2024 Golden Globes with some daring jokes.

Last week, six Hollywood stars were spuriously named in the the newly-released legal documents linked to Epstein, prompting actors including Cate Blanchett, Leonardo DiCaprio and Cameron Diaz to deny any personal involvement with the paedophile.

While the disclosure of the first batch of court files, published following a judge’s order in December, include the names of victims, friends and associates of Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell, many on the list share no direct link to the sex offender.

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For example, Blanchett and DiCaprio’s names were mentioned in a witness statement citing a false press report claiming the witness had met them. Other Hollywood stars to be mentioned in this section include Kevin Spacey, Bruce Willis and Star Wars director George Lucas.

The naming of individuals does not indicate any wrongdoing or any involvement in Epstein’s crimes. Neither Blanchett, DiCaprio, Diaz, Spacey, Willis or Lucas have been accused of any crime or involvement in Epstein’s abuse.

At the 2024 Golden Globes, Gaffigan hosted an award and, beforehand, addressed the controversy surrounding the Epstein list.

After arriving on stage, he said: “This is so exciting for me. The Golden Globes – I can’t even believe I’m in the entertainment industry. I can't. You know, it's so unlikely. I’m from a small town in Indiana. I'm not a paedophile. I don't know if that's a new category here, but...”

Gaffigan’s joke set awkward laughter rippling through the ceremony, which was held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles.

Earlier in the evening, the ceremony’s host Jo Koy made a brutal joke about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in what was considered a lacklustre opening monologue.

As noted in the Epstein documents, a lawyer asked Epstein accuser Johanna Sjoberg: “I saw one press report that said you had met Cate Blanchett or Leonardo DiCaprio?”

Jim Gaffigan cracked controversial Epstein joke at Golden Globes
Jim Gaffigan cracked controversial Epstein joke at Golden Globes (Getty Images)

Sjoberg replied: “I did not meet them, no. When I spoke about them, it was when I was massaging him [Epstein], and he would get off – he would be on the phone a lot at that time, and one time he said: ‘Oh, that was Leonardo,’ or, ‘That was Cate Blanchett, or Bruce Willis.’ That kind of thing.”

When the lawyer asked Sjoberg if Epstein was “name-dropping”, she replied: “Yes,” and she confirmed that she “has not” met either Blanchett, DiCaprio, Diaz or the other actors named.

Diaz’s representative told The Independent has contacted all for comment, with a representative stating: “Cameron never met Jeffrey Epstein, nor was she ever in the same place as him or had any association with him whatsoever, regardless of the fact he may or may not have mentioned her name or implied that he knew her.”

Reps for DiCaprio and Blanchett have also denied any involvement with the paedophile.

Epstein was a billionaire known for associating with celebrities, politicians, billionaires and academic stars. He was initially arrested in Palm Beach, Florida, in 2005 after he was accused of paying a 14-year-old girl for sex.

Dozens of underage girls described similar abuse, but prosecutors allowed the financier to plead guilty in 2008 to a charge involving a single victim. Epstein served 13 months in a jail work-release program. He died by suicide in a Manhattan jail cell in 2019 while awaiting new sex-trafficking charges.

Oppenheimer was the big movie winner at the Golden Globes, with Succession and The Bear sweeping the TV categories. The ceremony was hosted by comedian Jo Koy, who seemingly left Taylor Swift unimpressed with a joke aimed at the singer, and dealt a particularly brutal jibe at Harry and Meghan.

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