Mel Gibson has a well-known history of making offensive statements—so much so that when someone like Winona Ryder accuses the Australian actor of making anti-semitic and homophobic remarks, your natural response might be, “Which time?” In an interview with The Sunday Times to promote her role in David Simon’s alt-history drama The Plot Against America—which centers on a World War II-era Jewish family living in an increasingly fascist America under the leadership of Charles Lindbergh—Ryder recalled her own experiences with anti-semitism, including a troubling encounter with Mel Gibson. According to Ryder, Gibson made anti-semitic and homophobic statements about her and a friend, respectively, during the same incident:
We were at a crowded party with one of my good friends. And Mel Gibson was smoking a cigar, and we’re all talking and he said to my friend, 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?’
It’s not the first time Ryder has told this story. In a 2010 interview with GQ, Ryder recounted the event, which she says took place approximately 15 years prior. The story remains consistent, though in the 2010 telling, Ryder did not elaborate on the homophobic remark:
I remember, like, fifteen years ago, I was at one of those big Hollywood parties. And he 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!
Gibson’s anti-semitism came to light following a 2006 arrest for a DUI, during which he proclaimed “The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world!” The actor apologized shortly thereafter, but appeared far less contrite in a 2016 interview with Variety in which he described the event as an “unfortunate incident.” Gibson said, “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.” Sure, Jan.