'Hangover II' Director Defends Decision to Fire Mel Gibson

Hangover II director Todd Phillips is defending his decision to fire Mel Gibson from a cameo role in the comedy sequel.

"He's one of our finest actors and, quite honestly, one of our finest directors," Phillips tells Entertainment Tonight. "But The Hangover II is a family ... and as much as I loved the idea, a lot of people didn't ... I didn't want anything to come in between that family."

Star Zach Galifianakis joked that Gibson was "the worst Jew in Hollywood…that's an inside joke," according to E! News. (Gibson infamously told an officer that "Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world," while being arrested for DUI in 2006.)

On a podcast made last week -- before it was announced Gibson was dropped -- Galifianakis said: "I'm in deep protest right now about a movie I'm working on, up in arms about something."

Liam Neeson will replace Gibson, who was set to play a "crazy and intense…someone you're afraid to talk to" tattoo artist, an insider told The Hollywood Reporter on Friday.

Bradley Cooper, who co-starred with Neeson in this summer's The A-Team, was instrumental in his casting.

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