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Eszterhas, who has a controversial reputation of his own, had been collaborating for several months with Gibson on a script for Warner Bros. about a Jewish warrior Judah Maccabee (a story depicted in the Bible). He was let go from the project, and apparently not too happy about it—so he sent a scathing letter to the actor-director, obtained by TheWrap.
[UPDATE, 6:08 p.m. PT: Eszterhas responds to Gibson's letter, telling TheWrap that Gibson "should be very careful calling me a liar" and that he has a tape to prove Gibson's "actions and statements."]
In it, Eszterhas accuses Gibson of using him to "deflect continuing charges of anti-semitism." He goes on to tell Gibson, "You hate Jews." In the letter, Eszterhas also defends the quality of his script, which he refers to as "the Jewish Braveheart."
The letter, which is nine pages long, paints a picture of Gibson as not only anti-semetic but unfocused, charged with anger, suggests that he is has been physically abusive and even issued death threats against his ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva. Eszterhas indicates that at one point he and his wife felt unsafe in Gibson's home. The letter even alleges that Gibson said John Lennon "deserved to be shot... 'Imagine.' I hate that f---ing song. I'm glad he's dead."
This is not the first time Eszterhas has feuded with a creative collaborator. He stormed off the set of "Basic Instinct" (released in 1992) as the result of a verbal fight with director Paul Verhoeven. The pair did make up and later worked together on the infamously bad "Showgirls" (released in 1995).
Moreover, this is not the first time Gibson has been accused of anti-semitism: In 2006, Gibson is said to have made anti-semitic slurs to a police officer while he was being arrested under suspicion of drunk driving. Gibson later publicly apologized.
Gibson has replied to the letter, which was also sent to Deadline Hollywood. His reply claims Eszterhas fabricated most of the facts and statements in his letter to Gibson. He closes his reply with "The decision not to proceed with you was based on the quality of your script, not on any other factor."
Warner Bros. recently put the film "The Maccabees" on hold, according to TheWrap. The story revolves around the Maccabeen revolt in the 2nd century BC, which reestablished Jewish worship in Jerusalem.
Here is Gibson's response letter, in its entirety:
I have your letter. I am not going to respond to it line by line, but I will say that the great majority of the facts as well as the statements and actions attributed to me in your letter are utter fabrications. I would have thought that a man of principle, as you purport to be, would have withdrawn from the project regardless of the money if you truly believed me to be the person you describe in your letter. I guess you only had a problem with me after Warner Brothers rejected your script.
I will acknowledge like most creative people I am passionate and intense. I was very frustrated that when you arrived at my home at the expense of both Warner Brothers and myself you hadn't written a single word of a script or even an outline after 15 months of research, meetings, discussions and the outpouring of my heartfelt vision for this story. I did react more strongly than I should have. I promptly sent you a written apology, the colorful words of which you apparently now find offensive. Let me now clearly apologize to you and your family in the simplest of terms.
Contrary to your assertion that I was only developing Maccabees to burnish my tarnished reputation, I have been working on this project for over 10 years and it was publicly announced 8 years ago. I absolutely want to make this movie; it's just that neither Warner Brothers nor I want to make this movie based on your script.
Honestly, Joe, not only was the script delivered later than you promised, both Warner Brothers and I were extraordinarily disappointed with the draft. In 25 years of script development I have never seen a more substandard first draft or a more significant waste of time. The decision not to proceed with you was based on the quality of your script, not on any other factor.
I think that we can agree that this should be our last communication.
Watch Mel Gibson in 'Get the Gringo' Trailer:
- Mel Gibson