Oscars 2018: Gary Oldman's antisemitic language resurfaces after Oscars win

Oldman triumphed for his portrayal of Winston Churchill in ‘Darkest Hour’, but faces criticism for past defence of Mel Gibson

Maya Oppenheim@mayaoppenheim
Monday 05 March 2018 14:32
Gary Oldman wins Oscar for best actor in a leading role

Antisemitic language used by Gary Oldman has resurfaced after he won Best Actor at this year’s Oscars for his portrayal of Winston Churchill in the Darkest Hour.

The British actor beat fellow nominees Timothee Chalamet in Call Me By Your Name, Daniel Day-Lewis in Phantom Thread, Denzel Washington in Roman J Israel, Esq and Daniel Kaluuya in Get Out.

Close to tears, Oldman thanked America, saying he was “deeply grateful to her”. He added that “the movies, such is their power, captivated a young man from south London, and gave him a dream”.

Dedicating the award to his 98-year-old mother, he said: “Thank you for your love and support. Put the kettle on. I’m bringing Oscar home.”

But Oldman, who received similar prizes at this year’s Golden Globes and Baftas, has faced fresh scrutiny in recent weeks over remarks he made to Playboy magazine in a 2014 interview.

Defending antisemitic comments infamously made by actor and director Mel Gibson, he used racist and sexist language.

“I don’t know about Mel. He got drunk and said a few things, but we’ve all said those things,” he said, referring to Gibson’s antisemitic rant, which saw him claim that Jews were responsible “for all the wars in the world“, during a 2006 arrest.

Five years later, Gibson pleaded no contest to a misdemeanour charge of battering his former girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva. While not technically a guilty plea, it has the same immediate effect as a guilty plea and is often offered as a part of a plea bargain.

Recorded tapes allegedly captured Gibson threatening Ms Grigorieva by telling her: “You look like a f****** pig in heat. If you get raped by a pack of n******, it will be your fault.”

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In his Playboy interview, Oldman added: “We’re all f***ing hypocrites. That’s what I think about it. The policeman who arrested him has never used the word ‘n****r’ or ‘that f***ing Jew’? I’m being brutally honest here. It’s the hypocrisy of it that drives me crazy.”

Fiercely criticised for the comments at the time, Oldman later apologised in an open letter to the Anti-Defamation League.

He said he was “deeply remorseful” the comments “were offensive to many Jewish people”.

He added: “I see how insensitive they may be, and how they may indeed contribute to the furtherance of a false stereotype.”

Allegations of domestic abuse by Oldman against his now ex-wife Donya Fiorentino have also resurfaced in the lead up to the Academy Awards. He has denied the allegations.

He has previously told The Independent: “I would prefer not to comment on this matter. It was a long time ago and I went through a thorough legal process who ruled on this sad and painful issue. Any further discussion is truly hurtful to me and my boys and I will not put them through this again.”

Oldman was granted sole custody of their two children, and no charges were ever filed against him.

Born in New Cross in south-east London, Oldman is now on his fifth marriage to Gisele Schmidt, having also previously been wed to jazz singer Alexandra Edenborough, fellow Oscar nominee Lesley Manville and actor Uma Thurman.

His illustrious acting career spans four decades, and includes roles such as Sid Vicious in Sid And Nancy, George Smiley in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Harry Potter’s Sirius Black.

Accepting his Oscar from Salma Hayek, Oldman said: “I thank you, Sir Winston, I thank you, the Churchill family ... I am so grateful for this incredible honour.”

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