Winona Ryder. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.
Jewish actress Winona Ryder revealed in an interview on Sunday that she was once overlooked for a movie role because she looked “too Jewish” for the part.
Ryder, 48, speaking to The Sunday Times newspaper, said, “There are times when people have said, ‘Wait, you’re Jewish? But you’re so pretty!’ 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.”
Talking further about her Jewish background, the “Stranger Things” actress explained that she is “not religious, but I do identify.” She added, “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 talked about encountering antisemites in the film industry and retold one incident involving actor Mel Gibson, who is known for past antisemitic behavior. Ryder said the 64-year-old “Braveheart” star called her an “oven dodger,” a clear reference to the crematoria at Nazi concentration camps during World War II.
Ryder recalled: “We were at a crowded party with one of my good friends, and Mel Gibson was smoking a cigar, and we’re all talking and he said to my friend, who’s gay, ‘Oh wait, am I gonna get AIDS?’ And then something came up about Jews, and he said, ‘You’re not an oven dodger, are you?’”
The actress added that Gibson later tried to apologize to her.