Mel Columcille Gerard Gibson, AO (born January 3, 1956) is an American born, two-time Academy Award-winning actor, film director, film producer and screenwriter. Born in the United States, Gibson moved to Australia when he was 12 years old and he later studied acting at the National Institute of Dramatic Art in Sydney. After appearing in the Mad Max and Lethal Weapon series, Gibson went on to direct and star in the Academy Award-winning Braveheart. Gibson's direction of Braveheart made him the sixth actor-turned-filmmaker to receive an Oscar for Best Director. In 2004, he directed and produced The Passion of the Christ, a controversial but hugely successful movie that portrayed the last hours of the life of Jesus Christ.
Soon after being awarded $145,000 in a work-related-injury lawsuit against New York Central Railroadon February 14, 1968, Hutton Gibson relocated his family to Sydney, Australia. Gibson was 12 years old at the time. The move to Hutton's mother's native Australia was for economic reasons, and because Hutton thought the Australian military would reject his oldest son for the Vietnam War draft.
The students at NIDA were classically trained in the British-theater tradition rather than in preparation for screen acting. As students, Gibson and Judy Davis played the leads in Romeo and Juliet, and Gibson played the role of Queen Titania in an experimental production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. After graduation, in 1977, Gibson immediately began work on the filming of Mad Max, but continued to work as a stage actor, and joined the State Theatre Company of South Australia in Adelaide. Gibson’s theatrical credits include the character Estragon (opposite Geoffrey Rush) in Waiting for Godot, and the role of Biff Loman in a 1982 production of Death of a Salesman in Sydney. Gibson’s most recent theatrical performance, opposite Sissy Spacek, was the 1993 production of Love Letters by A. R. Gurney, in Telluride, Colorado.
Gibson almost did not get the role that made him a star. His agent got him an audition for Mad Max, but the night before, he got into a drunken brawl with three men at a party, resulting in a swollen nose, a broken jawline, and various other bruises. Mel showed up at the audition the next day looking like a "black and blue pumpkin" (his own words). Mel did not expect to get the role and only went to accompany his friend. However, the casting agent told Mel to come back in two weeks, telling him "we need freaks." When Mel did come back, he was not recognized because his wounds had healed almost completely, and received the part. This incident is listed in Ripley's Believe It or Not!
When the film was first released in America, all the voices, including that of Mel Gibson's character, were dubbed with U.S. accents at the behest of the distributor, American International Pictures, for fear that audiences would not take warmly to actors speaking entirely with Australian accents.
The original film spawned two sequels: Mad Max 2 (known in North America as The Road Warrior), and Mad Max 3 (known in North America as Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome). A fourth movie, Mad Max 4: Fury Road, is in development, but both Gibson and George Miller have indicated that the starring role would go to a younger actor.
The film production in the Philippines was disrupted by radical Muslims, forcing the filmmakers to return to Australia to complete the film. Gibson downplayed the death threats, saying, "It wasn't really that bad. We got a lot of death threats to be sure, but I just assumed that when there are so many, it must mean nothing is really going to happen. I mean, if they meant to kill us, why send a note?
Gibson followed the footsteps of Errol Flynn, Clark Gable, and Marlon Brando by starring as Fletcher Christian in a cinematic retelling of the mutiny on the Bounty. The resulting 1984 film The Bounty is considered to be the most historically accurate version. However, Gibson does not believe that the film went far enough in correcting the historical record.
"I think the main problem with that film was that it tried to be a fresh look at the dynamic of the mutiny situation, but didn't go far enough. In the old version, Captain Bligh was the bad guy and Fletcher Christian was the good guy. But really Fletcher Christian was a social climber and an opportunist. They should have made him the bad guy, which indeed he was. He ended up setting all these people adrift to die, without any real justification. Maybe he'd gone island crazy. They should have painted it that way. But they wanted to exonerate Captain Bligh while still having the dynamic where the guy was mutinying for the good of the crew. It didn't quite work."
"It was a kind of fresh look at Captain Bligh, and I think of all the renditions of who Bligh was, his was probably the closest. His Bligh was stubborn and didn't suffer fools, but he was brilliant and just had a lot of bad luck."Gibson described the making of the film as difficult because of the long production and bad weather. "I went mad. They would hold their breath at night when I went off. One night I had a fight in a bar and the next day they had to shoot only one side of my face because the other was so fucked up. If you see the film, you can see the swelling in certain scenes." Anthony Hopkins was worried about Gibson’s heavy drinking, saying, "Mel is a wonderful, wonderful fellow with a marvelous future. He's already something of a superstar, but he's in danger of blowing it unless he takes hold of himself." Gibson agreed with this concern, and added his admiration for Welsh actor, "He was terrific. He was good to work with because he was open and he was willing to give. He’s a moral man, and you could see this. I think we had the same attitudes.
The two actors were trained in two different schools of acting. Gibson is classically trained and Glover is a method actor. Four films were produced in 1987, 1989, 1992 and 1998.
The film met with critical and marketing success and remains steady in DVD sales. It also marked the transformation of Mel Gibson from action hero to serious actor and filmmaker.
Gibson received two Academy Awards, Best Director and Best Picture, for his 1995 direction of Braveheart. In the movie, Gibson starred as Sir William Wallace, a 13th century martyr of Scottish nationalism.
In one of his interviews, he attempted to make a film similar to the big screen epics he had loved as a child, such as Stanley Kubrick's Spartacus and William Wyler's The Big Country. The filming began in the Scottish Highlands. After learning that the intended filming locations were among the rainiest spots in Europe, the shooting was moved to the Republic of Ireland, where members of the Irish Army Reserve worked as extras in the film's many battles. The Battle of Stirling sequence in Braveheart is considered one of the best directed battle scenes in all of film history, even though the scene scarcely resembles the real-life battle.
Reviews were mixed, with critics ranging from praising the film for realistic depiction of Jesus' final hours to criticism of violence and charges of anti-Semitism.
The movie grossed US$611,899,420 worldwide and $370,782,930 in the US alone, a figure, at that time, surpassed any motion picture starring Gibson. It became the eighth highest-grossing film in history and the highest-grossing rated R film of all time. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Original Music Score, Best Cinematography, and Best Makeup at the 77th Academy Awards and won the People's Choice Award for Best Drama.
Gibson has dismissed the rumors that he is considering directing a film about Spanish explorer Vasco Núñez de Balboa. Asked in September 2007 if he planned to return to acting and specifically to action roles, Gibson said:
Gibson is next acting in a film adaptation of the BBC miniseries, Edge of Darkness. This will be his first starring role since Signs back in 2002. Edge of Darkness is currently filming and is slated for a 2009 release.
Gibson has an avid interest in real estate investments, with multiple properties in Malibu, California, several locations in Costa Rica, a private island in Fiji and properties in Australia. In December 2004, Gibson sold his Australian ranch in the Kiewa Valley for $6 million. Also in December 2004, Gibson purchased Mago Island in Fiji from Tokyu Corporation of Japan for $15 million. Descendants of the original native inhabitants of Mago (who were displaced in the 1860s) have protested the purchase. Gibson stated it was his intention to retain the pristine environment of the undeveloped island. In early 2005, he sold his Montana ranch to a neighbor for an undisclosed multimillion dollar sum. In April 2007 he purchased a ranch in Costa Rica for $26 million, and in July 2007 he sold his 76 acre Tudor estate in Connecticut (which he purchased in 1994 for $9 million) for $40 million to an unnamed buyer. Also that month, he sold a Malibu property for $30 million that he had purchased for $24 million two years before. In 2008, he purchased the Malibu home of David Duchovny and Téa Leoni . Gibson's height has a been a subject of debate throughout his career. Mel says he's 5'10" (178 cm) but claims he's read that he's 5'4" (163 cm). Rock singer Scott Stapp said Mel is about 5'7" (170 cm) and it's been written that he's barely 5'8" (173 cm) and needed to wear built up shoes and stand on a box to be eye level with 5'11" (180 cm) Sigourney Weaver. In 2002 when he appeared on Michael Parkinson's talk show he tried to settle the rumor about his height. He told 5'11" (180 cm) Michael Parkinson to stand up to show that they were about the same size and pointed to his shoes saying that he didn't have lifts. A James Bond height chart also poked fun at his height showing him very short and a listing him at 5'8" (173 cm). Gibson is usually listed at 5'9" (175 cm) or 5'11" (180 cm) and celebheights.com lists him at 5'9 1/2" (177 cm) .
When asked about the Catholic doctrine of "Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus", Gibson replied, "There is no salvation for those outside the Church … I believe it. Put it this way. My wife is a saint. She's a much better person than I am. Honestly. She's, like, Episcopalian, Church of England. She prays, she believes in God, she knows Jesus, she believes in that stuff. And it's just not fair if she doesn't make it, she's better than I am. But that is a pronouncement from the chair. I go with it.” Gibson does not understand this dogma to mean that non-Catholics will go to hell; when he was asked at Willow Creek church whether John 14:6 is an intolerant position, he said that “through the merits of Jesus' sacrifice… even people who don't know Jesus are able to be saved, but through him.” Gibson also told Diane Sawyer that he believes non-Catholics and non-Christians can go to heaven.
In May 2007, Mel Gibson flew to Hermosillo, Mexico, where he attended a Tridentine Mass during which grandchildren of his friends and two of his children received the sacrament of Confirmation, administered by Archbishop emeritus Carlos Quintero Arce. The same Archbishop Arce consecrated Gibson's private traditional Roman Catholic church of the Holy Family in Malibu in February, 2007.
Gibson's Traditionalist Catholic beliefs have also been the target of attacks, especially during the controversy over his film The Passion of the Christ. When the film premiered in France, the newspaper Libération, considered the voice of French liberalism, dubbed Gibson's religious beliefs "the Shiite version of Christianity." Gibson has recently stated in an interview with Diane Sawyer that he feels that his "human rights were violated", by the often vitriolic attacks on his person, his family, and his religious beliefs which were sparked by The Passion.
Gibson complimented filmmaker Michael Moore and his documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 when he and Moore were recognized at the 2005 People's Choice Awards. Gibson's Icon Productions originally agreed to finance Moore's film, but later sold the rights to Miramax Films. Moore said that his agent Ari Emanuel claimed that "top Republicans" called Mel Gibson to tell him, "don’t expect to get more invitations to the White House". Icon's spokesman dismissed this story, saying "We never run from a controversy. You'd have to be out of your mind to think that of the company that just put out The Passion of the Christ.
In a July 1995 interview with Playboy magazine, Gibson said President Bill Clinton was a "low-level opportunist" and someone was "telling him what to do". He said that the Rhodes Scholarship was established for young men and women who want to strive for a "new world order" and this was a campaign for Marxism. Gibson later backed away from such conspiracy theories saying, "It was like: 'Hey, tell us a conspiracy' . . . so I laid out this thing, and suddenly, it was like I was talking the gospel truth, espousing all this political shit like I believed in it."
Gibson joked about WMDs in a February 2004 interview with Diane Sawyer and in March 2004 questioned the Iraq war on Sean Hannity's radio show. In 2006, Gibson told the Time magazine that the "fearmongering" depicted in his film Apocalypto "reminds me a little of President Bush and his guys."
Some have criticized Braveheart for its portrayal of the future Edward II as weak and effeminate and for the scene in which Edward I throws his son's male lover out of the window. Gibson defended his depiction of Prince Edward as weak and ineffectual, saying,
“'I'm just trying to respond to history. You can cite other examples – Alexander the Great, for example, who conquered the entire world, was also a homosexual. But this story isn't about Alexander the Great. It's about Edward II.”Gibson asserted that the reason the king killed his son's lover was because the king was a “psychopath,” and he expressed bewilderment that some audience members would laugh at this murder:
"We cut a scene out, unfortunately . . . where you really got to know that character (Edward II) and to understand his plight and his pain. . . . But it just stopped the film in the first act so much that you thought, 'When's this story going to start?'
Gibson was also accused of homophobia based on his portrayal of Herod Antipas in The Passion of the Christ. In the film, the Hellenized Antipas is depicted as a luxurious, wig-wearing buffoon who surrounds himself with young male and female drunken revelers. The character of the Jewish high priest Caiphas is shown to be disgusted by the mascara-wearing Herod and his debauchery. The effeminate portrayal of Antipas in The Passion is common to other representations, including Jesus Christ Superstar. The origin of this tradition may have been Christ's description of Herod as a “fox” in Luke 13:32, using a feminine word meaning “vixen” in the original Greek.
Criticisms have been leveled at the historical accuracy of the Gibson-directed Braveheart, including its portrayal of English lords asserting jus primae noctis. Gibson has acknowledged the reliance on anachronistic elements and the legends about William Wallace to make Braveheart more cinematically compelling. Furthermore, Gibson has dissociated himself from Scottish nationalists using the film to campaign for separation from the United Kingdom (England).
Gibson was called anti-English following the release of The Patriot in 2000, despite neither directing nor writing the script for the film. The American Revolutionary character played by Gibson (loosely inspired by four people) waged a private war against a villainous British officer based on Colonel Banastre Tarleton.
According to unauthorised biographer and vocal Gibson critic Wensley Clarkson, Mel Gibson was raised in an openly anti-British atmosphere by his Irish-American parents. Clarkson cites alleged family stories saying that several of Gibson's maternal relations (possibly including his grandmother) were raped by the Black and Tans during the Irish War of Independence. Clarkson further accuses Gibson of deliberately standing up the British Royal Family at the London premiere of Hamlet. However, Gibson had also missed the New York premiere of Hamlet to attend the funeral of his mother in Australia.
While promoting The Patriot, Gibson told reporters, "I'm actually an Anglophile. I like the Brits, you know?" The fact that he keeps battling the British onscreen is "an unhappy accident, really. I'll have to remedy the situation someday.
Estrada began by calling Gibson "racist" and "ignorant", and saying, "It's a racist film, and I demand an apology." Gibson replied that he was insulted by this accusation. Estrada handed the microphone to her friend KPFK radio host Felipe Perez, who began reading a lengthy statement in Spanish. The organizers eventually said, "ask a question or leave" and cut off the microphone, but Gibson said he should be allowed to continue. Estrada took back the mic and began to translate the prepared statement. When officials concluded that she was not going to ask a question, they called security to escort her out. Estrada then asked Gibson if he was aware of certain scholars, and Gibson replied that he knew them well, and he detailed his research for the film. Although Estrada said that Gibson used profanity in his response, CSUN spokesman John Chandler disagreed: "He didn't respond with a profanity. He responded by answering the question." After Estrada's microphone was turned off, Gibson said, "No, let her talk. Please." Estrada became angry that she was being "silenced", and Gibson responded, "I'm listening to you! I can still hear you!" As Estrada and Perez were being escorted out, the audience applauded. Later in the Q&A session, Gibson expressed regret at the incident and the evening ended with a standing ovation for the filmmaker.
Soon afterwards, student newspaper photographer Khristian Garay sold his photographs to the paparazzi, resulting in a story at TMZ.Gibson's publicist told journalists, "This was just a reaction to someone being disruptive and rude. He went on and completed the session and said it was successful. It's unfortunate it was tarnished with a momentary confrontation." Estrada defended herself, saying, "In no way was my question aggressive in the way that he responded to it. These are questions that my peers, my colleagues, ask me every time I make a presentation. These are questions I pose to my students in the classroom." Estrada furthermore demanded an apology, "not only to me but to the Central American program at CSUN, to the university and most importantly to the Mayan people and Mayan community." University spokesman John Chandler commented, "The students were very appreciative of Mr. Gibson being there. He spent a lot of time answering questions about moviemaking."
"I had really good highs but some very low lows. I found out recently I'm manic depressive."Gibson has not made any other public mention of having bipolar disorder.
In 1984, Gibson was arrested in Toronto for driving with a blood alcohol level between 0.12%-0.13% after he rear-ended a car. According to Clarkson, when the other driver exited his vehicle and began shouting profanity at him, Mel Gibson laughed and offered him a drink. Gibson plead guilty and was fined $300 and banned from driving in Ontario for 3 months. In court he apologized to the Toronto community and thanked the police.
In 1985, Gibson retreated to his Australian farm for over a year to recover, but he continued to struggle with drinking. Despite this problem, Gibson gained a reputation in Hollywood for professionalism and punctuality, so that Lethal Weapon 2 director Richard Donner was shocked when Gibson confided that he was drinking five pints of beer for breakfast. Gibson said, in 2003, that his despair in his mid-thirties led him to contemplate suicide, and he meditated on Christ's Passion to heal his wounds. He took more time off acting in 1991 and sought professional help. That year, Gibson's attorneys were unsuccessful at blocking the Sunday Mirror from publishing what Gibson shared at AA meetings. In 1992, Gibson provided financial support to Hollywood's Recovery Center, saying, "Alcoholism is something that runs in my family. It's something that's close to me. People do come back from it, and it's a miracle. On July 28, 2006, Gibson was arrested for DUI while speeding in his vehicle with an open container of alcohol. He admitted to making anti-Semitic remarks during his arrest and apologized for his "despicable" behavior, saying the comments were "blurted out in a moment of insanity" and asked to meet with Jewish leaders to help him "discern the appropriate path for healing." When pressed for what his thoughts were at the time in a later interview with Diane Sawyer, he cited the vitriolic attacks on his film The Passion of the Christ and Israel-Lebanon conflict. After Gibson's arrest, his publicist said he had entered a recovery program to battle alcoholism. On August 17, 2006, Gibson pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor drunken-driving charge and was sentenced to three years on probation. Superior Court Judge Lawrence Mira ordered him to attend self-help meetings five times a week for four and a half months and three times a week for the remainder of the first year of his probation. He was also ordered to attend a First Offenders Program, was fined $1,300, and his license was restricted for 90 days. He also volunteered to record a public service announcement.
In a October 12, 2006 interview with Diane Sawyer, Gibson spoke on his struggle to remain sober.
"The risk of everything - life, limb, family - is not enough to keep you from it… You cannot do it of yourself. And people can help, yeah. But it's God. You've got to go there. You've got to do it. Or you won't survive…This whole experience in a way, for me, I'm sort of viewing it now as a kind of a blessing because, firstly, I got stopped before I did any real damage to anyone else. Thank God for that. I didn't hurt myself, you know. I didn't leave my kids fatherless…The other thing is sometimes you need a cold bucket of water in the face to sort of snap to because you're dealing with a sort of a malady of the soul, an obsession of the mind and a physical allergy. And some people need a big tap on the shoulder. In my case, public humiliation on a global scale seems to be what was required.At a May 2007 progress hearing, Judge Mira praised Gibson for complying with the terms of his probation, saying,
"I know his extensive participation in a self-help program - and I should note he has done extensive work, beyond which was required.
While filming the movie Apocalypto in the jungles of Mexico's Veracruz state, Mel Gibson donated one million dollars to the Rotary Club to build houses for poor people in the region after some severe flooding wiped out many homes, stating:
"[T]hey had a lot of floods down there. It was like Louisiana down there in the southern regions. They had severe flooding and something like a million people were displaced and washed out. I've always been of the opinion that if you go into someone else's country to make a film you don't just go in there and stomp all over the place. You bring a gift. It's like going to somebody's house. You bring them a bottle of wine or a bunch of flowers or a box of chocolates and it's the same sort of thing on a big scale when you're going in to somebody's country and they are going to help you make your film. You help them first somehow or you give them a gift or you help in what way you can. So we sort of assisted with the flood relief stuff down there."
Gibson has a reputation for discreetly assisting members of the entertainment community with substance abuse problems. He worked behind the scenes to get Robert Downey, Jr. some help at Corcoran State Prison. Hole rocker Courtney Love praised Mel Gibson for saving her from a drug relapse after the Hollywood actor helped force her into rehab. Gibson sought to help the musician at a hotel in Los Angeles when he heard she was using drugs again. Love later recalled,
"I kept slamming the door in (Gibson's) face. There were two drug people with me who wouldn't leave, so they couldn't get me to rehab. But because of Mel, two drug people ran off to have a cheeseburger with him because he's Mel, and then Warren [Boyd] (her drug minder) could get me into rehab.
Gibson has donated $500,000 to the El Mirador Basin Project to protect the last tract of virgin rain forest in Central America and to fund archeological excavations in the "cradle of Mayan civilization. In July 2007, Gibson again visited Central America to make arrangements for donations to the indigenous population. Gibson met with Costa Rican President Oscar Arias to discuss how to "channel the funds. During the same month, Gibson pledged to give financial assistance to a Malaysian company named Green Rubber Global for a tire recycling factory located in Gallup, New Mexico. While on a business trip to Singapore in September 2007, Gibson donated to a local charity for children with chronic and terminal illnesses. In September 2008, the Gibsons donated $50,000 to the Kidney Foundation of Fiji. The check was delivered by son Milo, who stated he loved Fiji and his family was grateful to be able to help the organization.
|2009||Edge of Darkness||Thomas Craven|
|2006||Who Killed The Electric Car?||Himself|
|2004||Paparazzi||Anger Management Therapy Patient||Uncredited|
|2003||The Singing Detective||Dr. Gibbon|
|2002||Signs||Rev. Graham Hess|
|2002||We Were Soldiers||Lt. Col. Hal Moore|
|2000||What Women Want||Nick Marshall|
|2000||The Patriot||Benjamin Martin|
|2000||The Million Dollar Hotel||Detective Skinner|
|1998||Lethal Weapon 4||Sergeant Martin Riggs|
|1997||FairyTale: A True Story||Frances' Father||Uncredited|
|1997||Conspiracy Theory||Jerry Fletcher|
|1997||Fathers' Day||Scott the Body Piercer||Uncredited|
|1993||The Man Without a Face||Justin McLeod|
|1993||The Chili Con Carne Club||Mel|
|1992||Forever Young||Capt. Daniel McCormick|
|1992||Lethal Weapon 3||Sergeant Martin Riggs|
|1990||Air America||Gene Ryack|
|1990||Bird on a Wire||Rick Jarmin|
|1989||Lethal Weapon 2||Sergeant Martin Riggs|
|1988||Tequila Sunrise||Dale "Mac" McKussic|
|1987||Lethal Weapon||Sergeant Martin Riggs|
|1985||Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome||Mad Max Rockatansky|
|1984||Mrs. Soffel||Ed Biddle|
|1984||The River||Tom Garvey|
|1984||The Bounty||Fletcher Christian Master's Mate|
|1982||The Year of Living Dangerously||Guy Hamilton|
|1982||Attack Force Z||Captain P.G. (Paul) Kelly|
|1981||Mad Max 2 aka The Road Warrior||Mad Max Rockatansky|
|1980||The Chain Reaction||Bearded mechanic||Uncredited|
|1979||Mad Max||Mad Max Rockatansky|
|1977||I Never Promised You a Rose Garden||Baseball Player||Uncredited|
|2004||The Passion of the Christ|
|1993||The Man Without a Face|
|2008||Another Day in Paradise||Producer|
|2005||Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man||Executive Producer / Producer|
|2004||The Passion of the Christ||Producer|
|2003||The Singing Detective||Producer|
|1992||Forever Young||Executive Producer - Uncredited|
|2004||The Passion of the Christ||Screenplay|