Mel Gibson and Basic Instinct writer Joe Eszterhas are waging a very public battle of words against each other following the news that Warner Bros. had rejected Eszterhas’s script for a film about Judah Maccabee.
The Hungarian writer penned a nine page letter aimed at Gibson, detailing certain anti-semite comments, and violent rages that Gibson allegedly unleashed against Eszterhas, his family and others. The letter is very critical of the Lethal Weapon star, but one has to wonder why Eszterhas stayed with the project, especially if one of these rages led to his son sleeping with a knife under his pillow for protection!
Eszterhas has often come under fire for his depiction of women in films like Showgirls and the aforementioned Basic Instinct, and for his representation of Nazis in the drama Music Box. In recent years, the writer has battled cancer and written several books including Hollywood Animal and The Devil’s Guide to Hollywood, which are both worth a read if you have even a passing interest in Hollywood films.
Gibson and Eszterhas had collaborated on the project which was set to follow Maccabee, joining forces with his brothers and father to rebel against the Seleucid Empire in second century B.C.
Gibson’s response was much more succinct than Eszterhas’ rant, which reads like the outline for a Hollywood film, rather than the development of a film script, which is ironic considering that Gibson charges Eszterhas with taking his sweet time in writing such a treatment for the Maccabee project.
You can read Eszterhas nine page document here, but you can check out Mel Gibson’s much more calm and measured response below.
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 I would have thought that a man of principle, as you purport to be, would have withdrawn from the project regardless of the money if you truly believed me to be the person you describe in your letter.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.