Mel Colm-Cille Gerard Gibson, AO (born 3 January 1956) is an American actor, film director, producer and screenwriter. Born in Peekskill, New York, Gibson moved with his parents to Sydney, Australia when he was 12 years old and later studied acting at the Australian National Institute of Dramatic Art.
After appearing in the Mad Max and Lethal Weapon series, Gibson went on to direct and star in the Academy Award-winning Braveheart. In 2004, he directed and produced The Passion of the Christ, a controversial yet successful film portraying the last hours in the life of Jesus. In recent years, remarks by Gibson have generated accusations of homophobia, anti-Semitism, racism, and Misogyny; he has apologized repeatedly for the statements and denied that they represent his real opinions.
Gibson was born in Peekskill, New York, the sixth of 11 children, and the second son of Hutton Gibson and Irish-born Anne Patricia (née Reilly, died 1990). His paternal grandmother was the Australian opera contralto Eva Mylott (1875–1920). One of Gibson's younger brothers, Donal, is also an actor. Gibson's first name comes from Saint Mel, fifth-century Irish saint, and founder of Gibson's mother's native diocese, Ardagh, while his second name, Colm-Cille, is also shared by an Irish saint and is the name of the parish in County Longford where Gibson's mother was born and raised. Because of his mother, Gibson holds dual Irish and American citizenship.
Soon after being awarded US$145,000 in a work-related-injury lawsuit against New York Central Railroad on 14 February 1968, Hutton Gibson relocated his family to West Pymble, Sydney, Australia. Mel 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 Defence Forces would reject his oldest son for the draft during the Vietnam War.
Gibson was educated by members of the Congregation of Christian Brothers at St Leo's Catholic College in Wahroonga, New South Wales, during his high school years.
Gibson gained very favorable notices from film critics when he first entered the cinematic scene, as well as comparisons to several classic movie stars. In 1982, Vincent Canby wrote that “Mr. Gibson recalls the young Steve McQueen... I can't define "star quality," but whatever it is, Mr. Gibson has it.” Gibson has also been likened to “a combination Clark Gable and Humphrey Bogart.” Gibson's roles in the "Mad Max" series of films, Peter Weir's Gallipoli, and the "Lethal Weapon" series of films earned him the label of "action hero". Later, Gibson expanded into a variety of acting projects including human dramas such as Hamlet, and comedic roles such as those in Maverick and What Women Want. He expanded beyond acting into directing and producing, with: The Man Without a Face, in 1993; Braveheart, in 1995; The Passion of the Christ, in 2004; and Apocalypto, in 2006. Jess Cagle of TIME has compared Gibson to Cary Grant, Sean Connery, and Robert Redford. Connery once suggested Gibson should play the next James Bond to Connery's M. Gibson turned down the role, reportedly because he feared being typecast.
Gibson studied at the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) in Sydney. The students at NIDA were classically trained in the British-theater tradition rather than in preparation for screen acting. As students, Gibson and actress 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.
Australian television and cinema
While a student at NIDA, Gibson made his film debut in the 1977 film Summer City, for which he was paid $400.
Gibson then played the title character in the film Mad Max (1979). He was paid $15000 for this role. Shortly after making the film he did a season with the South Australian theatre Company. During this period he shared a $30 a week apartment in Adelaide with his future wife Robyn. After Mad Max Gibson also played a mentally slow youth in the film Tim.
During this period Gibson also appeared in Australian television series guest roles. He appeared in serial The Sullivans as naval lieutenant Ray Henderson, in police procedural Cop Shop, and in the pilot episode of prison serial Punishment which was produced in 1980, screened 1981.
Gibson joined the cast of the World War II action film Attack Force Z, which was not released until 1982 when Gibson had become a bigger star. Director Peter Weir cast Gibson as one of the leads in the critically acclaimed World War I drama Gallipoli, which earned Gibson another Best Actor Award from the Australian Film Institute. The film Gallipoli also helped to earn Gibson the reputation of a serious, versatile actor and gained him the Hollywood agent Ed Limato. The sequel Mad Max 2 was his first hit in America (released as The Road Warrior). In 1982 Gibson again attracted critical acclaim in Peter Weir’s romantic thriller The Year of Living Dangerously. Following a year hiatus from film acting after the birth of his twin sons, Gibson took on the role of Fletcher Christian in The Bounty in 1984. Playing Max Rockatansky for the third time in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, in 1985, earned Gibson his first million dollar salary.
Early Hollywood years
Mel Gibson's first American film was Mark Rydell’s 1984 drama The River, in which he and Sissy Spacek played struggling Tennessee farmers. Gibson then starred in the Gothic romance Mrs. Soffel for Australian director Gillian Armstrong. He and Matthew Modine played condemned convict brothers opposite Diane Keaton as the warden's wife who visits them to read the Bible. In 1985, after working on four films in a row, Gibson took almost two years off at his Australian cattle station. He returned to play the role of Martin Riggs in Lethal Weapon, a film which helped to cement his status as a Hollywood "leading man". Gibson's next film was Robert Towne’s Tequila Sunrise, followed by Lethal Weapon 2, in 1989. Gibson next starred in three films back-to-back: Bird on a Wire, Air American, and Hamlet; all were released in 1990.
During the 1990s, Gibson alternated between commercial and personal projects. His films in the first half of the decade were Forever Young, Lethal Weapon 3, Maverick, and Braveheart. He then starred in Ransom, Conspiracy Theory, Lethal Weapon 4, and Payback. Gibson also served as the speaking and singing voice of John Smith in Disney’s Pocahontas.
In 2000, Gibson acted in three films that each grossed over $100 million: The Patriot, Chicken Run, and What Women Want. In 2002, Gibson appeared in the Vietnam War drama We Were Soldiers and M. Night Shyamalon’s Signs, which became the highest-grossing film of Gibson’s acting career. While promoting Signs, Gibson said that he no longer wanted to be a movie star and would only act in film again if the script were truly extraordinary. In 2010, Gibson appeared in Edge of Darkness, which marked his first starring role since 2002 and was an adaptation of the BBC miniseries, Edge of Darkness. In 2010, following an outburst at his ex-girlfriend that was made public, Gibson was dropped from the talent agency of William Morris Endeavor.
After his success in Hollywood with the Lethal Weapon series, Gibson began to move into producing and directing. With partner Bruce Davey, Gibson formed Icon Productions in 1989 in order to make Hamlet. In addition to producing or co-producing many of Gibson's own star vehicles, Icon has turned out many other small films, ranging from Immortal Beloved to An Ideal Husband. Gibson has taken supporting roles in some of these films, such as The Million Dollar Hotel and The Singing Detective. Gibson has also produced a number of projects for television, including a biopic on The Three Stooges and the 2008 PBS documentary Carrier. Icon has grown from being just a production company to also be an international distribution company and film exhibitor in Australia and New Zealand.
Mel Gibson has credited his directors, particularly George Miller, Peter Weir, and Richard Donner, with teaching him the craft of filmmaking and influencing him as a director. According to Robert Downey, Jr., studio executives encouraged Gibson in 1989 to try directing, an idea he rebuffed at the time. Gibson made his directorial debut in 1993 with The Man Without a Face, followed two years later by Braveheart, which earned Gibson the Academy Award for Best Director. Gibson had long planned to direct a remake of Fahrenheit 451, but in 1999 the project was indefinitely postponed because of scheduling conflicts. Gibson was scheduled to direct Robert Downey, Jr. in a Los Angeles stage production of Hamlet in January 2001, but Downey's drug relapse ended the project. In 2002, while promoting We Were Soldiers and Signs to the press, Gibson mentioned that he was planning to pare back on acting and return to directing. In September 2002, Gibson announced that he would direct a film called The Passion in Aramaic and Latin with no subtitles because he hoped to "transcend language barriers with filmic storytelling." In 2004, he released the controversial film The Passion of the Christ, with subtitles, which he co-wrote, co-produced, and directed. The film went on to become the highest grossing rated R film of all time with $370,782,930 in U.S. box office sales. Gibson directed a few episodes of Complete Savages for the ABC network. In 2006, he directed the action-adventure film Apocalypto, his second film to feature sparse dialogue in a non-English language.
Gibson's acting career began in 1976, with a role on the Australian television series The Sullivans. In his career, Gibson has appeared in 43 films, including the Mad Max and Lethal Weapon film series. In addition to acting, Gibson has also directed four films, including Braveheart and The Passion of the Christ; produced 11 films; and written two films. Films either starring or directed by Mel Gibson have earned over US$2.5 billion, in the United States alone. Gibson's filmography includes television series, feature films, television films, and animated films.
Mad Max series
Gibson got his breakthrough role as the leather-clad post-apocalyptic survivor in George Miller's Mad Max. The independently financed blockbuster helped to make him an international star everywhere but in the United States, where the actors' Australian accents were dubbed with American 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.
Gibson played the role of the cynical Frank Dunne alongside co-star Mark Lee in the 1981 Peter Weir film. Gallipoli is about a group of young men from rural Western Australia who enlist in the Australian Imperial Force during World War I. They are sent to the Ottoman Empire, where they take part in the Gallipoli Campaign. During the course of the movie, the young men slowly lose their innocence about the war. The climax of the movie occurs at the brutal attack during Battle of Nek. According to Gibson, “Gallipoli was the birth of a nation. It was the shattering of a dream for Australia. They had banded together to fight the Hun and died by the thousands in a dirty little trench war." The critically acclaimed film helped to further launch Gibson's career. He won the award for Best Actor in a Leading Role from the Australian Film Institute.
The Year of Living Dangerously
Gibson played a naïve but ambitious journalist opposite Sigourney Weaver and Linda Hunt in Peter Weir’s atmospheric 1982 film The Year of Living Dangerously, based on the novel of the same name by Christopher Koch. The movie was both a critical and commercial success, and the upcoming Australian actor was heavily marketed by MGM studio. In his review of the film, Vincent Canby of The New York Times wrote, "If this film doesn't make an international star of Mr. Gibson, then nothing will. He possesses both the necessary talent and the screen presence." According to John Hiscock of The Daily Telegraph, the film did, indeed, establish Gibson as an international talent.
Gibson was initially reluctant to accept the role of Guy Hamilton. "I didn't necessarily see my role as a great challenge. My character was, like the film suggests, a puppet. And I went with that. It wasn't some star thing, even though they advertised it that way." Gibson saw some similarities between himself and the character of Guy. "He's not a silver-tongued devil. He's kind of immature and he has some rough edges and I guess you could say the same for me." Gibson has cited this screen performance as his personal favorite.
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 thinks that the film's revisionism did not go far enough. He stated that his character should have been portrayed as more of a villain and described Anthony Hopkins's performance as William Bligh as the best aspect of the film.
Lethal Weapon series
Gibson moved into more mainstream commercial filmmaking with the popular buddy cop Lethal Weapon series, which began with the 1987 original. In the films he played LAPD Detective Martin Riggs, a recently widowed Vietnam veteran with a death wish and a penchant for violence and gunplay. In the films, he is partnered with a reserved family man named Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover). Following the success of Lethal Weapon, director Richard Donner and principal cast revisited the characters in three sequels, Lethal Weapon 2 (1989), Lethal Weapon 3 (1993), and Lethal Weapon 4 (1998). With its fourth installment, the Lethal Weapon series embodied "the quintessence of the buddy cop pic".
Gibson made the unusual transition from the action to classical genres, playing the melancholic Danish prince in Franco Zeffirelli's Hamlet. Gibson was cast alongside such experienced Shakespearean actors as Ian Holm, Alan Bates, and Paul Scofield. He described working with his fellow cast members as similar to being "thrown into the ring with Mike Tyson".
Mel Gibson directed, produced, and starred in Braveheart, an epic telling of the legend of Sir William Wallace, a 13th century Scottish patriot. Gibson received two Academy Awards, Best Director and Best Picture, for his second directorial effort. In winning the Academy Award for Best Director, Gibson became only the sixth actor-turned-filmmaker to do so. Braveheart influenced the Scottish nationalist movement and helped to revive the film genre of the historical epic; the Battle of Stirling Bridge sequence is considered by critics to be one of the all-time-best-directed battle scenes.
The Passion of the Christ
Gibson directed, produced, co-wrote, and funded the 2004 film The Passion of the Christ, which chronicled the passion and death of Jesus (Jim Caviezel). The film was shot exclusively in Aramaic, Latin, and Hebrew. Although Gibson originally intended to release the film without subtitles; he eventually relented for theatrical exhibition. The film sparked divergent reviews, ranging from high praise to criticism of the violence.
The Anti-Defamation League further accused Gibson of anti-Semitism over the film's unflattering depiction of Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin. Among those to defend Gibson were Orthodox Jewish Rabbi Daniel Lapin and radio personality Michael Medved. Referring to ADL National Director Abraham Foxman, Rabbi Lapin said that by calling The Passion of the Christ anti-Semitic, "what he is saying is that the only way (for Christians) to escape the wrath of Foxman is to repudiate (their own) faith."
In an interview with the Globe and Mail, Gibson stated, "If anyone has distorted Gospel passages to rationalize cruelty towards Jews or anyone, it's in defiance of repeated Papal condemnation. The Papacy has condemned racism in any form... Jesus died for the sins of all times, and I'll be the first on the line for culpability".
Eventually, the continued media attacks began to anger Gibson. After his father's Holocaust denial was sharply criticized in print by The New York Times writer Frank Rich, Gibson retorted, "I want to kill him. I want his intestines on a stick.... I want to kill his dog."
Gibson's Traditionalist Catholic upbringing was also the target of criticism. In a 2006 interview with Diane Sawyer, Gibson stated that he feels that his "human rights were violated" by the often vitriolic attacks on his person, his father's beliefs, and his religious beliefs which were sparked by The Passion.
The movie grossed US$611,899,420 worldwide and $370,782,930 in the US alone, surpassing any motion picture starring Gibson. In US box offices, it became the eighth (at the time) highest-grossing film in history, and the highest-grossing rated R film of all time. The film was nominated for three Academy Awards and won the People's Choice Award for Favorite Dramatic Motion Picture.
Gibson received further critical acclaim for his directing of the 2006 action-adventure film Apocalypto. Gibson's fourth directorial effort is set in Mesoamerica during the early 16th century against the turbulent end times of a Maya civilization. The sparse dialogue is spoken in the Yucatec Maya language by a cast of Native American descent.
Gibson starred in The Beaver, a film directed by former Maverick co-star, Jodie Foster. The Beaver premiered at The South by Southwest Festival in Austin on 16 March 2011. The opening weekend in 22 theaters was considered a flop: it made $104,000 which comes to a per-theater average of $4,745. The film's distributor, Summit Entertainment, had originally planned for a wide release of The Beaver for the weekend of 20 May, but after the initial box-office returns for the film, the company changed course and decided instead to give the film a "limited art-house run". Michael Cieply of the New York Times observed on 5 June 2011, that the film had cleared just about $1 million, making it a certified "flop". Director Jodie Foster opined that the film did not do well with American audiences because it was a ddramedy and “And very often Americans are not comfortable with (that).”
In March 2007, Gibson told a screening audience that he was preparing another script with Farhad Safinia about the writing of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). Gibson's company has long owned the rights to The Professor and the Madman, which tells the story of the creation of the OED.
Gibson has dismissed the rumors that he is considering directing a film about Spanish explorer Vasco Nunez de Balboa. Asked in September 2007 if he planned to return to acting and specifically to action roles, Gibson said: "I think I’m too old for that, but you never know. I just like telling stories. Entertainment is valid and I guess I’ll probably do it again before it's over. You know, do something that people won’t get mad with me for."
In 2005, the film Sam and George was announced as the seventh collaboration between director Richard Donner and Gibson. In February 2009, Donner said that this Paramount project was “dead,” but that he and Gibson were planning another film based on an original script by Brian Helgeland for production in fall 2009.
He has also expressed an intention to direct a movie set during the Viking Age, starring Leonardo DiCaprio. The as-yet untitled film, like The Passion of the Christ and Apocalypto, will feature dialogue in period languages. However, some sources have speculated that DiCaprio might opt out of the project.
In June 2010, Gibson was in Brownsville, Texas, filming scenes for another movie, How I spent My Summer Vacation, about a career criminal put in a tough prison in Mexico.
In October 2010, it was reported that Gibson would have a small role in The Hangover: Part II, but he was removed from the film after the cast and crew objected to his involvement.
In 2011, it was announced that Gibson had commissioned a screenplay from Joe Eszterhas about the Maccabees. The film is to be distributed by Warner Brothers Pictures. The announcement generated significant controversy.
Gibson met Robyn Denise Moore in the late 1970s soon after filming Mad Max when they were both tenants at a house in Adelaide. At the time, Robyn was a dental nurse and Mel was an unknown actor working for the South Australian Theatre company. On 7 June 1980, Mel and Robyn Gibson were married in a Roman Catholic Church in Forestville, New south Wales. They currently have one daughter, six sons, and three grandchildren as of 2011.
After 26 years of marriage, Mel and Robyn Gibson separated on 29 July 2006. In a 2011 interview, Gibson stated that the separation began the day following his arrest for drunk driving in Malibu. Robyn Gibson filed for divorce on 13 April 2009, citing irreconcilable differances. In a joint statement, the Gibsons declared, "Throughout our marriage and separation we have always strived to maintain the privacy and integrity of our family and will continue to do so." The divorce filing followed the March 2009 release of photographs appearing to show him on a beach embracing Russian pianist Oksana Grigorieva. Gibson's divorce was finalized on December 23, 2011, and the settlement with his ex-wife was said to be the highest in Hollywood history at over $400,000,000.
On 28 April 2009, Gibson made a red carpet appearance with Grigorieva. Grigorieva, who had previously had a son with actor Timothy Dalton, gave birth to Gibson's daughter Lucia on 30 October 2009. In April 2010, it was made public that Gibson and Grigorieva had split. On 21 June 2010, Grigorieva filed a restraining order against Gibson to keep him away from her and their child. The restraining order was modified the next day regarding Gibson's contact with their child. Gibson obtained a restraining order against Grigorieva on 25 June 2010. In response to claims by Grigorieva that an incident of domestic violence occurred in January 2010, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department launched a domestic violence investigation in July 2010.
On 23 December 2011, a Los Angeles judge approved the divorce settlement between Gibson and wife of 31 years, Robyn Denise Moore. No details of the divorce settlement were released by either party. The divorce took effect on January 9, 2012.
Gibson is a property investor, 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 300-acre (1.2 km2) Australian farm 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 45,000-acre (180 km2) Montana ranch to a neighbor. In April 2007 he purchased a 400-acre (1.6 km2) ranch in Costa Rica for $26 million, and in July 2007 he sold his 76-acre (310,000 m2) 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 Tea Leoni.
Gibson has a reputation for practical jokes, puns, Stooge-inspired physical comedy, and doing outrageous things to shock people. As a director he sometimes breaks the tension on set by having his actors perform serious scenes wearing a red clown nose. Helena Bonham Carter, who appeared alongside him in Hamlet, said of him, "He has a very basic sense of humor. It's a bit lavatorial and not very sophisticated." During the filming of Hamlet, Gibson would relieve pressure on the set by mooning the cast and crew, directly following a serious scene. In addition to inserting several homages to the Three Stooges in his lethal Weapon movies, Gibson produced a 2000 television movie about the comedy group which starred Michael Chiklis as Curly Howard. As a gag, Gibson inserted a single frame of himself smoking a cigarette into the 2005 teaser trailer of Apocalypto.
Gibson and his former wife have contributed a substantial amount of money to various charities, one of which is Healing the Children. According to Cris Embleton, one of the founders, the Gibsons gave millions to provide lifesaving medical treatment to needy children worldwide. They also supported the restoration of Renaissance artwork and gave millions of dollars to NIDA.
Gibson 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 a 2011 interview, Gibson said of his philanthropic works, “It gives you perspective. It’s one of my faults, you tend to focus on yourself a lot. Which is not always the healthiest thing for your psyche or anything else. If you take a little time out to think about other people, it’s good. It’s uplifting.”
Religious and political views
Gibson was raised a Traditionalist Catholic. 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... 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." When he was asked 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." Acquaintance Father William Fulco has said that Gibson denies neither the Pope nor Vatican II. Gibson told Diane Sawyer that he believes non-Catholics and non-Christians can go to heaven.
Gibson has been described as “ultraconservative”.
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." In the same 1995 Playboy interview, Gibson argued against ordaining women to the priesthood.
In 2004, he publicly spoke out against taxpayer-funded embryonic stem-cell research that involves the cloning and destruction of human embryos. In March 2005, he condemned the outcome of the Terri Schiavo case, referring to Schiavo's death as "state-sanctioned murder".
Gibson questioned the Iraq War in March 2004. In 2006, Gibson said that the "fearmongering" depicted in his film Apocalypto "reminds me a little of President Bush and his guys."
In a 2011 interview, Gibson stated,
"The whole notion of politics is they always present you with this or this or this. I’ll get a newspaper to read between the lines. Why do you have to adhere to prescribed formulas that they have and people argue over them and they’re all in a box. And you watch Fox claw CNN, and CNN claw Fox. Sometimes I catch a piece of the news and it seems insanity to me. I quietly support candidates. I’m not out there banging a drum for candidates. But I have supported a candidate and it’s a whole other world. Once you’ve been exposed to it, once or twice or however many times, if you know the facts and see how they’re presented, it’s mind-boggling. It’s a very scary arena to be in, but I do vote. I go in there and pull the lever. It’s kind of like pulling the lever and watching the trap door fall out from beneath you. Why should we trust any of these people? None of them ever deliver on anything. It’s always disappointing."
The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) accused Gibson of homophobia after a December 1991 interview in the Spanish newspaper El Pais in which he made derogatory comments about homosexuals. Gibson later defended his comments and rejected calls to apologize. However, Gibson joined GLAAD in hosting 10 lesbian and gay filmmakers for an on-location seminar on the set of the movie Conspiracy Theory in January 1997. In 1999 when asked about the comments to El País, Gibson said, "I shouldn't have said it, but I was tickling a bit of vodka during that interview, and the quote came back to bite me on the ass."
Alleged anti-Semitism in The Passion of the Christ
Gibson's 2004 film The Passion of the Christ sparked a fierce debate over alleged anti-Semitic imagery and overtones. Gibson denied that the film was anti-Semitic, but critics remained divided. Some agreed that the film was consistent with the Gospels and traditional Catholic teachings, while others argued that it reflected a selective reading of the Gospels. James Carroll, in Constantien's Sword: The Church and the Jews, states that the Catholic Church traditionally blames the Jews for the death of Jesus; John Dominc Crossan's Who Killed Jesus points out that the traditional Jewish method of execution was stoning; crucifixion was a Roman method. Crossan also looks at the record of Pontius Pilate, who never hesitated to use extreme measures against unruly Jews.
Allegations of sexism and domestic violence
In July 2010, it was alleged that Gibson had been recorded during a phone call with Oksana Grigorieva suggesting that if she got "raped by a pack of niggers," she would be to blame. Gibson was barred from coming near Grigorieva or her daughter due to a domestic violence-related restraining order. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has launched a domestic violence investigation against Gibson. Gibson's estranged wife, Robyn Gibson, has filed a court statement declaring that she never experienced any abuse from Gibson, while forensic experts have questioned the validity of some of the tapes. In March 2011, Mel Gibson agreed to plead no contest to a misdemeanor battery charge.
In a subsequent interview, Gibson stated,
"I was allowed to end the case and still maintain my innocence. It’s called a West Plea and it’s not something that prosecutors normally allow. But in my case, the prosecutors and the judge agreed that it was the right thing to do. I could have continued to fight this for years and it probably would have come out fine. But I ended it for my children and my family. This was going to be such a circus. You don’t drag other people in your life through this sewer needlessly, so I’ll take the hit and move on."
Accusations of racism
On 8 July 2010, Gibson was alleged to have used the term "wetbacks" as he suggested turning in one of his employees to immigration authorities. On 9 July 2010, some audio recordings alleged to be of Gibson were posted on the internet. The same day Gibson was dropped by his agency, William Morris Endeavor. Civil rights activists commented that Gibson had shown patterns of racism, sexism and anti-Semitism and called for a boycott of Gibson's movies.
In April 2011, Gibson finally broke his silence about the incident in question. In an interview with Deadline.com, Gibson expressed gratitude to longtime friends Whoopi Goldberg and Jodie Foster, both of whom had spoken publicly in his defense. About the recordings, Gibson said,
"I’ve never treated anyone badly or in a discriminatory way based on their gender, race, religion or sexuality – period. I don’t blame some people for thinking that though, from the garbage they heard on those leaked tapes, which have been edited. You have to put it all in the proper context of being in an irrationally, heated discussion at the height of a breakdown, trying to get out of a really unhealthy relationship. It’s one terribly, awful moment in time, said to one person, in the span of one day and doesn’t represent what I truly believe or how I’ve treated people my entire life."
Alcohol abuse and legal issues
Gibson has said that he started drinking at the age of thirteen. In a 2002 interview about his time at NIDA, Gibson said, "I had really good highs but some very low lows. I found out recently I'm manic depressive."
Gibson was banned from driving in Ontario for three months in 1984, after rear-ending a car in Toronto while under the influence of alcohol. He 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 such that Lethal Weapon2 director Richard Donner was shocked when Gibson confided that he was drinking five pints of beer for breakfast. Reflecting in 2003 and 2004, Gibson said that despair in his mid-30s 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."
DUI incident with anti-Semitic remarks
On 28 July 2006, Gibson was arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) while speeding in his vehicle with an open container of alcohol. According to a 2011 article in Vanity Fair, Gibson first told the arresting officer, "My life is over. I’m fucked. Robyn’s going to leave me." According to the arrest report, Gibson then exploded into an angry tirade at the arresting officer. Gibson climaxed with the words, "Fucking Jews... the Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world."
After the arrest report of was leaked on TMZ.com, Gibson issued two apologies through his publicist, and in a televised interview with Diane Sawyer, he affirmed the accuracy of the quotations. He further 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." After Gibson's arrest, his publicist said he had entered a recovery program to battle alcoholism.
On 17 August 2006, Gibson pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor drunken-driving charge and was sentenced to three years probation. He was ordered 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.
At a May 2007 progress hearing, Gibson was praised for his compliance with the terms of his probation and his extensive participation in a self-help program beyond what was required.
According to a friend interviewed on condition of anonymity, "It is my belief he felt that he had just absolutely failed as a human being. Mel was trying to invite death by cop. I don’t think this was about being anti-Semitic. I think he was trying to rile that guy into pulling out a gun and shooting him. Before he left the restaurant that night, he went to every single table and said good-bye. Why would you say good-bye to every table unless you think you’re never going to see them again? I believe that what was going on that night was a farewell."
On 25 July 1997, Gibson was named an honorary Officer of the Order of Australia (AO), in recognition of his "service to the Australian film industry". The award was honorary because substantive awards are made only to Australian citizens. In 1985, Gibson was named "The Sexiest Man Alive" by People, the first person to be named so. Gibson quietly declined the Chevalier des Arts et Lettres from the French government in 1995 as a protest against France's resumption of nuclear testing in the Southwest Pacific. TIME magazine chose Mel Gibson and Michael Moore as Men of the Year in 2004, but Gibson turned down the photo session and interview, and the cover went instead to George W. Bush.