(JTA) — Actress Winona Ryder said she was passed over for a movie role because the studio head thought she looked “too Jewish” and Mel Gibson once asked her if she was an “oven dodger.”
Ryder, born Winona Laura Horowitz in Winona, Minnesota, talked about her experiences with antisemitism in Hollywood as part of wide-ranging interview published in the London-based Sunday Times.
“There was a movie that I was up for a long time ago, it was a period piece, and the studio head, who was Jewish, said I looked ‘too Jewish’ to be in a blue-blooded family,” Ryder told newspaper.
The incident with Gibson, at a party in 1995, was first reported in an interview in GQ in 2010. Ryder said that when something came up in the conversation about Jews, the actor-director said, ‘You’re not an oven dodger, are you?’” – a reference to the ovens that cremated the bodies of inmates in Nazi extermination camps. She added that Gibson later tried to apologize for the remark.
Speaking of her Judaism, Ryder said that she is “Not religious, but I do identify. It’s a hard thing for me to talk about because I had family who died in the camps, so I’ve always been fascinated with that time.”
She also said: “There are times when people have said, ‘Wait, you’re Jewish? But you’re so pretty!’”
Ryder recently appeared in the HBO miniseries “The Plot Against America” based on the novel by Philip Roth.