A wave of condemnation has greeted the announcement of a new film starring Mel Gibson, in which the actor is due to play a character called Whitelaw Rothchild, the patriarch of a wealthy family.
The film, called Rothchild, is being offered to buyers at Cannes, and is described as a "dark comedy" and "an action-packed cautionary tale on wealth and power". Shia LaBeouf also stars, playing family outcast Becket Rothchild, who has to supplant nine other family members to claim an inheritance. The script – which on the face of it bears a distinct resemblance to the 1949 British comedy Kinds Hearts and Coronets – is set among a group of the New York super-rich, whose surname is nearly identical to the celebrated Jewish banking dynasty who are ubiquitous as the target of antisemitic tropes.
While the ethnicity of the family in the film has not been specified in reports, its similarity to the Rothschild name has sparked outrage because of the series of incidents that contributed to Gibson's lengthy ostracism by Hollywood. In 2006, he launched an antisemitic tirade against a police officerafter he was arrested in California; he later apologised. In 2012, he was accused of "hating Jews" by screenwriter Joe Eszterhas, which Gibson denied.