Mel Gibson has been forced to deny that his new film "Rothchild" is based on the wealthy Jewish "Rothschild" banking dynasty.
The actor’s standing in Hollywood was severely damaged over a decade ago after he launched an anti-Semitic rant at a police officer, in which he yelled "The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world!"
Gibson’s film career has been slowly re-emerging but he set off a new controversy after deciding to take the role of a family patriarch called Whitelaw Rothchild, the villain in a dark satire about an exorbitantly rich New York family.
Shia LaBeouf is set to play Becket Rothchild, the black sheep of the family who tries to inveigle his way back into favour.
The film’s makers have not indicated that the fictional "Rothchild" family is Jewish, but the name immediately drew comparisons to the Rothschilds.
Danya Ruttenberg, a New York rabbi, criticised Gibson’s decision to appear in the film.
She said: "It’s honestly shocking to me that he would be in this movie. I truly don’t get it."
A spokesman for Gibson denied the film was about a Jewish family, and said those suggesting it was anything to do with the Rothschilds were wrong.
In a statement the spokesman, said: "The criticism stems from the inaccurate reporting that this film is actually about a wealthy family of Jewish bankers, which it is not.
"’Rothchild’ is not about the actual Rothschild family and the only similarities between the two are that they are wealthy and their names are similar."
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Gibson’s 2004 film The Passion of the Christ was attacked as anti-Semitic by some Jewish leaders.
Around the same time the star made comments in an interview that the Holocaust was a "numbers game".
Two years later he was stopped for drink-driving and during his arrest made his comment that "Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world". He later apologised publicly.
The Rothschild banking empire was founded by German-born Mayer Amschel Rothschild in the 19th Century and his descendants furthered its wealth and influence across Europe. It has been the target of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.
In 2010 Gibson faced further criticism after a two-minute audio recording emerged in which he called his then girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva a "Vegas whore" and made racial slurs. He was dropped by his long-time agents at the time.
That year Gibson also pleaded no contest to battery of Miss Grigorieva, and was sentenced to 36 months of probation, and ordered to attend a year of domestic violence counselling.
Gibson, a Catholic, has increasingly been accepted back in Hollywood in recent years.
His 2016 film Hacksaw Ridge was widely acclaimed and won two Oscars.
He has two other films at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, including one in which he plays Santa Claus.
Backers of Gibson’s latest films said his career appeared to be on the rise again.
A producer associated with his Santa Claus film told The Hollywood Reporter: "Whatever has happened in the past it doesn’t seem to affect his international value at all."