Mel Gibson 'Was Interested' in “Schindler’s List” Role 'but It Wasn't Going to Happen,' Says Agent

Agent Michael Ovitz said in a new interview that Mel Gibson wanted the lead role that went to Liam Neeson

<p>Kurt Krieger/Corbis via Getty; Mary Evans/AMmblin Entertainment/Universal Pictures/Ronald Grant/Everett Collection</p> Mel Gibson, Schindler

Kurt Krieger/Corbis via Getty; Mary Evans/AMmblin Entertainment/Universal Pictures/Ronald Grant/Everett Collection

Mel Gibson, Schindler's List

Mel Gibson wanted to be considered for the lead role in 1993's Schindler's List, one of the filmmakers behind the film revealed in a new interview.

Agent Michael Ovitz, who played a key role in making the movie, participated in a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter to mark 30 years since the Holocaust drama swept the Oscars in 1994. (It won seven total, including Best Picture.)

Ovitz revealed to the outlet that Gibson, now 68, at one point expressed interest in starring in the project.

"Mel Gibson’s name came up. He was interested. His agent put him forward. But it wasn’t going to happen. Steven wanted a non–movie star for the part," said Ovitz.

A rep for Gibson did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

Liam Neeson earned a Best Actor Oscar nomination for playing Oskar Schindler, a German businessman who helped save hundreds of Jewish people during the Holocaust.

Related: Steven Spielberg Says Editing Guns Out of 'E.T.' Was a 'Mistake': 'I Never Should Have Done That'

<p>Snap/Shutterstock</p> Liam Neeson as Oskar Schindler


Liam Neeson as Oskar Schindler

The actor, 71, told THR of other stars rumored to have been in the running for the role: "I heard Harrison Ford’s name. [Kevin] Costner’s name. The Australian actor Jack Thompson — I thought, 'Oh, yeah, Jack looks very like Schindler.' I looked nothing like Schindler. Anyway, it was always in the back of my head, but I wasn’t holding out huge hope."

Director Steven Spielberg added, though, "A lot of people were interested in playing Schindler, and a lot of them were movie stars, and to all of them I promised never to divulge any of their history with me, so I’m not saying those names are accurate."

"I’m saying there were a number of people, even more than the names you gave me," added Spielberg, 77.

Related: Iconic Roles That Were 'Almost' Played by Someone Else

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In 1996, Gibson won an Oscar for directing Best Picture–winner Braveheart, in which he also starred. The actor faced controversy in 2006, when he shouted an anti-Semitic slur at a Los Angeles police officer during a DUI arrest. Gibson apologized after the incident, saying, "I acted like a person completely out of control … and said things I do not believe to be true and which are despicable. I am deeply ashamed."

Gibson recently starred with Mark Wahlberg in the faith-based movie Father Stu, as well as the John Wick television series The Continental.

In the THR interview, Spielberg added of Schindler's List's legacy, "It’s the best movie I’ve ever made. I am not going to say it’s the best movie I ever will make. But currently, it’s the work I’m proudest of."

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