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If you’re not familiar with screenwriter Joe Eszterhas, he’s the man who penned the likes of Flashdance, Basic Instinct, Showgirls, and now a scathing nine-page letter to Mel Gibson with whom he’d been collaborating on a film dubbed the “Jewish Braveheart.”  The Maccabees was allegedly intended to be Gibson’s olive branch to the Jewish community after his much-publicized anti-semitic rants, but the project stalled.  Eszterhas, addressing Gibson, believes he knows why: “You hate Jews.”  The letter, published in full by The Wrap, goes on to detail Eszterhas’ accounts of working with Gibson on the project.     

On Gibson’s anti-semitic language:

Let me remind you of some of the things you said which appalled me.  You continually called Jews “Hebes” and “oven-dodgers” and “Jewboys.”  It seemed that most times when we discussed someone, you asked, “He’s a Hebe, isn’t he?” or “Is he a Hebe?”  You said most gatekeepers of American companies were “Hebes” who controlled their bosses.

You said the Holocaust was “mostly a lot of horseshit.”  You said the Torah made reference to the sacrifice of Christian babies and infants.  When I told you that you were confusing the Torah with The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, one of the most scurrilous anti-semitic tracts ever written, you insisted, “It’s in the Torah – it’s in there!”  (It isn’t.)

On the screenplay’s Gibson-appointed religious advisors:

I was looking forward, too, to working with the two “biblical advisors” you had picked.  But as time passed, I realized that one of the advisors, a Catholic priest – whom you called “Father Fucko” – a friend of yours who’d advised you on The Passion, made time only for half a day of conversation with me.  And your other advisor – whom you called “Rabbi Clueless” – a rabbi who defended you during The Passion controversy, made time only for a forty-minute telephone conversation.

On Gibson’s obsession with ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva:

You acted out for me the scene in which you hit her.  But you said you’d “just slapped her a little bit.”  After you slapped her, you said, she grabbed Luci and went running “hysterically” down the hillside behind your house in the pitch dark.

You were raving at Oksana even after you’d reached a custody agreement over Luci.  “I want that cunt gone!” you screamed.  “Gone!  Gone!  Gone!  I will not share Luci with her!”  And: “I’m going to get rid of her.  No one will ever know!  I’m not going to live this way the rest of my life!  She’s poisoning Luci against me!  She is evil!  They worship the devil where she came from.  She’s going to disappear!  Gone!”

And then you were even more explicit about your threat:  “I’m going to kill her!  I’m going to have her killed!”  You said you’d become friends with two FBI agents (or former agents) and they were going to help you kill her.

On a dinner party with Gibson, attended by Eszterhas and his son Nick and wife Naomi:

We heard a loud, explosive crash from the billiard room.  I realized that you had knocked over your expensive, beautifully carved totem pole.

In the kitchen and the dining room, the Costa Rican staff told their children, who were helping them, to get out of the house and run to one of the guest houses and hide.

Your screams downstairs continued: “This is agony!  Why don’t I have a first-draft of The Maccabees?  What the fuck have you been doing?”

You were screaming about me:  Nick stared at me as he heard your words.  “You’re getting paid.  I’m not!  Shit!  I’m earning money for a filthy little Russian cocksucker (Oksana) who takes advantage of me!  Just like every motherfucker!  So hurry the fuck up and give me the first draft!”

And later that night:

Naomi, Nick and I crept quietly back to our guest house.  We didn’t know where you were.  We were suddenly afraid of the dark.

Naomi was very upset when we got back to our room.  I held her and tried to calm her.  Nick slept with a butcher knife under his pillow that he had snatched from the kitchen of the main house, and bolted the door.

In response, TMZ has published a letter from Gibson rejecting Eszterhas’ accounts and blaming the stalled project on a “substandard first draft.”

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Cynthia Hawkins TNB Arts and Culture Editor CYNTHIA HAWKINS teaches creative writing at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Most of what she thinks she knows comes from movies, including how to tango, how to take someone down with a ballpoint pen, how to curse in French, and how to catch a moving train. Her work, on movies and otherwise, has appeared in literary journals and magazines such as ESPN the Magazine, Parent:Wise Magazine, The Good Men Project, New World Writing, Strange Horizons, and numerous alternative weeklies and anthologies. You can find Cynthia on Twitter and at cynthiahawkins.net.

7 Responses to “Joe Eszterhas Slams Collaborator Mel Gibson in Revealing Letter”

  1. Quenby Moone says:

    This is the best work Ezsterhas has ever done! I have no idea how much of it is real, but the quality of the writing is much better than Flashdance.

    • Right!? It would make a riveting film! It does seem in keeping with previous accounts of Gibson’s behavior/rants, but I thought it was a little curious that the letter seemed written for a larger audience than Gibson (doesn’t Gibson already know the full name of his ex-girlfriend and the fact that she’s the mother of his daughter Luci?) and ended up in The Wrap.

  2. Joe Daly says:

    Whoa. Who’s lying here, Ezsterhas, Gibson or both?

    Gibson’s a lost cause. No idea why Ezsterhas would consider bringing children into the home of a violent lunatic.

  3. Greg Olear says:

    I believe both of them…the two are not mutually exclusive. If E was “fabricating”, Mel should sue him for libel, which he does not appear to be doing. And OF COURSE the script is lousy. Did Mel not glance at E’s IMDB page? They deserve each other.

    Mel, if you’re reading this, I will a far superior script than E’s, and will have it for you in three months, for the low, low price of a million bucks. Have your people call my people (it’d be an internal agency memo).

  4. seanbeaudoin says:

    My only question is, if Big Joe writes the script, does that mean Gina Gershon’s lips get to play a Maccabee?

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