By Lanford Beard
April 12, 2012 at 02:52 PM EDT

Mel Gibson’s long-gestating film about Jewish hero Judah Maccabee hit another bump in the road yesterday when it was reported that screenwriter Joe Eszterhas (who left the project in February) wrote Gibson a nine-page letter that accused Gibson of using anti-Semitic slurs and ultimately concluded, “You hate Jews.” Gibson has responded to the Basic Instinct scribe, calling the allegations “utter fabrications.”

Per a Deadline report, Gibson called into question not only the work Eszterhas put into his script, but also Eszterhas’s “purported” principles for not pulling out of the project sooner. “I guess you only had a problem with me after Warner Brothers rejected your script,” wrote Gibson. He addressed Eszterhas’s alleged altercation by admitting that “like most creative people I am passionate and intense,” then apologizing once more for his prior conflicts with Eszterhas. However, he did challenge the writers’ assertions that the Maccabees project was only a stunt to recover Gibson’s reputation, noting that development has been public knowledge for nearly a decade.

“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,” wrote Gibson. “I think that we can agree that this should be our last communication.”

Click through to the next page to read the letter in full.

Joe,

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 I would have thought that a man of principle, as you purport to be, would have withdrawn from the project regardless of the money if you truly believed me to be the person you describe in your letter.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.

Mel

Read more:

Mel Gibson’s Maccabee project faces setback as screenwriter alleges Gibson ‘hates Jews’

ADL condemns Mel Gibson’s involvement in Maccabee film

From EW’s Archive: Menorah Jones (March 2004)

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