Jewish Actress Winona Ryder revealed that she was once overlooked for a movie role because she looked "too Jewish" for the part, in a recent interview with The Sunday Times.
“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," Ryder told The Sunday Times.
The actress additionally spoke about her experience with antisemitism in the film industry. Ryder recounted a time when she was stood at a crowded party in a group of friends, when she said that the 64-year-old Braveheart star called her an “oven dodger," an obvious reference to the Nazi extermination camps during the Holocaust.
"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 going to get AIDS?’ And then something came up about Jews, and he said, ‘You’re not an oven dodger, are you?'"
She noted however that Gibson later tried to apologize for the incident.During the interview Ryder spoke of her connection to Judaism, saying that she's "not religious, but I do identify." Notably, Ryder has been dating Scott Mackinlay Hahn, an American fashion designer with Jewish roots, since 2011. Ryder added that her connection to Judaism is hard for her to talk about because of her family's history with the Holocaust. "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."In the past Ryder has mentioned a strong relationship with the Holocaust. She spoke of the connection during a 1999 interview with the Jewish Journal on her role in the film adaptation for Girl, Interrupted, written by Jewish Author Susanna Kaysen. She said that she was majorly influenced for the role by her Russian-Jewish cousin, who was of similar age to Ryder at the time when she was killed in the Nazi camps. Ryder added that it was her grandmother on her father's side, who originally showed her the photos of her cousin, and other family members who died during the Holocaust.
Ryder, who's born name is Winona Horowitz, is Jewish through her father Michael Horowitz's side. Her father's family name was originally Tomchin, but it was changed upon his family's arrival in the United States after they emigrated from Russia.