Mel Gibson Openly Hated Jews and Abused His Wife. Hollywood Rejected Him For It, But Now He's Making Oscar Films Again.
Mel Gibson's life was marked by several scandals and affairs, which repeatedly almost destroyed his Hollywood career.
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Mel Gibson is 65 years old and he's had one of the most turbulent Hollywood careers. He was damned for his anti-Semitic statements, managed to recover from it, shot Oscar-winning dramas and became the face of action classics that will never be forgotten in the world of cinematography.
He started in a theatre school, like most actors do. From there he gradually worked his way to film. After his first two projects, director George Miller cast him in the post-apocalyptic action film Mad Max. This eventually became a cult classic and one of Gibson's best roles, especially in its second installment, Road Warrior.
Interestingly enough, Gibson was supposed to only bring his friend to the casting. Instead, however, Miller immediately casted Gibson, who became a well-known actor. Later he got a role in the great drama Gallipoli by director Peter Weir. From 1979 to 1985, he made three Mad Max episodes and appeared in several other projects, some more successful than others. Two years after the last sequel of Mad Max, he starred in the action thriller Lethal Weapon.
Biggest life roles
In Lethal Weapon, Gibson portrayed the lone detective Riggs, who had a partner Murtaugh (Danny Glover). The film became an unexpected hit and the Warner Bros. studio asked director Richard Donner to film the sequel within the next two years. But there were problems with the script. The screenwriter Shane Black wanted to kill Riggs in the sequel. The studio didn't allow it.
Instead of a dark action thriller, the series gradually evolved more and more into an action comedy. However, it had positive aspects as well. Three more sequels were made and maybe we'll even get to see Lethal Weapon 5 one day, with the original director and actors.
Between shooting three sequels, Gibson made several successful films, such as Hamlet or Air America. After the third sequel, however, he wanted to take a break and initially refused to shoot. Instead, he dabbled with directing in his directorial debut Man Without a Face. He proved that he can also deliver as a solid director. He has played the lead role in the film as well, but the director role grew on him. He then dove right into a new motion picture in collaboration with Richard Donner outside of the Lethal Weapon series.
It is an excellent western Maverick, full of great actors and a wonderful atmosphere. The turning point came in 1993. Gibson received a screenplay for the historical feature film Braveheart. It had caught his eye, but he rejected it at first. In the end, he accepted the offer, but only under the condition that the main role was played by Brad Pitt. However, Gibson eventually set out to cast William Wallace, symbol of Scotland's liberation from England's control.
Braveheart almost didn't happen, however it scored a few Oscars
Gibson eventually portrayed the main role, directing and producing the film with his production company Icon Productions, which he had co-founded only four years prior. Initially, the film was in big trouble. The producers could not get the necessary funding. Warner Bros. has reportedly offered to pay the budget if Gibson nods at an offer to play in Lethal Weapon 4, which Gibson allegedly refused.
Five years later, Deadly Weapon 4 was finally created, so it is unclear what exactly happened there at the time. The budget for Braveheart was paid by Paramount Pictures and 20th Century Fox in exchange for distribution rights abroad. So Braveheart was able to start filming, and Gibson won an Oscar for Best Picture and Best Director for it. The motion picture turned 5 of 12 Oscar nominations into awards. Mel Gibson not only confirmed his status as a great actor, but Hollywood finally started to take him seriously as a major director as well.
He did not rush into directing anyway. Instead, he continued as an actor in films such as Pocahontas, Ransom, Conspiracy Theory, and eventually nodded to Lethal Weapon 4 as well. Warner Bros. needed a hit feature urgently at the time, forcing director Richard Donner to start filming as soon as possible. Filming started in January 1998, and the film premiered in July same year.
At the time of the start of filming, they allegedly didn't even have the ending of the film figured out, and they allegedly never completely finished the script. Filming wrapped only one month before the premiere, so editor Frank J. Urioste and his team had to work non-stop during the filming already.
Jet Li was too fast for the cameras and Mel Gibson in the action scenes
The antagonist was supposed to be Jackie Chan, but he didn't want to portray a negative character. The creators approached Jet Li (who also played the villain for the first time and it was his first time acting in American production). Jet Li was reportedly so fast that they had to ask him to do his attacks more slowly because the cameras didn't have enough time to capture him.
Since the premiere of the fourth part, we have been hearing about the fifth sequel in the works here and there, and according to Richard Donner, he is currently in a state where they are ready to shoot. However, Donner is already 91 years old, so shooting an action blockbuster will definitely not be easy for him.
A year after Lethal Weapon 4, we saw Gibson in the excellent Payback thriller, for which the director's version was released in 2006. Gibson was never just an action movie star, and we could often see him in dramas as well. His romantic comedy What Women Want is unforgettable. He was absolutely spectacular in it, but you will also remember him from the sci-fi thriller Signs by M. Night Shyamalan. Gibson dipped his toes in several genres and proved that his acting range allows him to excel in each of them.
In 2004, he took a break from strenuous acting and began directing again. After long preparations, he shot The Passion of the Christ. The film became an unexpected hit and received positive reviews, although there were responses from around the world about some controversial elements.
How Gibson earned more than $ 400 million from The Passion of the Christ
Gibson didn't completely follow what the Vatican considered true and "official." In his film, Jesus is persecuted by Jews whom Gibson did not portray in the most beautiful light. The amount and level of brutal violence also caused controversy, which did not sit well with everyone. Either way, the film earned $ 611 million in theaters.
Nobody wanted to give Gibson money for this film, so he financed it all himself through Icon Productions. The shooting cost him 30 million, and another 15 million promotion costs on top of that.
After adding up all the sales and expenses, Gibson and his company took home an incredible amount of 400 million dollars. We don't know how much the actor really got and what the final profit was, but it is clear to everyone that if Gibson stopped working after the premiere, he probably would be sorted for the rest of his life.
Two years later, Gibson brought the thrilling adventure film Apocalypto to theaters. Just like the Passion of the Christ and Braveheart before that, Apocalypto had several Oscar nominations. However, it did not get any awards. We had to wait ten long years for Gibson's next directorial work. And his acting was on a similar hiatus as well.
After the great films Signs and We Were Soldiers from 2002, he didn't appear in any larger film until 2010. Finally, we saw the director's version of the Payback thriller, but after that, Gibson fell silent for four years. In 2006, he angered the entire Hollywood. It happened at a time when he was making tens of millions of dollars and was one of the biggest stars in the film business.
Anti-Semitic scandal and a career turning point
He was stopped by a police patrol in July 2006, when he was driving almost double the speed limit. Police found that he drank more than was allowed, when Gibson blurted out of nowhere: "Fucking Jews... The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world. Are you a Jew ? ”
Many turned their backs on Gibson after that incident, but there were also a few Hollywood celebrities defending him. One of the strongest voices in his favor belonged to the actress Jodie Foster. She also cast him in the successful drama Beaver, where he portrayed the lead role and garnered considerable praise. That film launched his return to Hollywood.
Gibson's alcohol excesses and occasional inappropriate behavior were also described in Vulture by the producer Dean Devlin, who worked on The Patriot around 2000. This gave us a better idea of how alcohol affected Gibsons behavior.
"He told me that when he drank this whole other character came out, and it was very self-destructive. He said, ‘It’s not like I won those fights. I lost every one of them.’ It was behavior that he was not proud of. He confessed that there were these demons that he always fought, and he was doing everything he could to redeem himself.“
Some Hollywood celebrities defended him
Gibson apologized to Devlin (Devlin is of Jewish descent) the day after his drunken-anti-Semitic police scandal. Devlin said Gibson called at the time and apologized to several colleagues. Variety writes that they approached a lot of Gibson's co-workers, and they all claimed him to be a great colleague and superior, as well as a good person. Gibson was also supported by the screenwriter and director Shane Black, who, like many others, claimed that Mel was in fact a good man.
However, he has problems with alcohol, otherwise he would not say anything racist or anti-Semitic. We are talking about the days before the emergence of movements such as #MeToo or the fight for racial equality in Hollywood. Even then, however, it was not common to defend rapists and anti-Semites.
By standing up for him, people directly threatened their own careers. And since there were more of them, and they were quite prominent, we have to take into account the possibility that everyone was telling the truth, and Mel isn't really the kind of man as was portrayed by his drunken scandals.
Gibson was also defended by Whoopi Goldberg and Richard Donner (Donner is also of Jewish descent). He was backed by men, women, Jews and African Americans.
He knocked his girlfriend's teeth out while she was holding their baby in her arms
In 2010, his wife and mother of his child, Oksana Grigoriev, recorded him when he called her angry, cursing, and threatening her. In the recording he sounds like violent man. There have been more similar recordings, and most have convicted Gibson of his horrific behavior, for whatever reason. Oksana also filed a criminal complaint against Mel for causing her health damage. He allegedly knocked out two of her teeth, while she was holding their child in her arms.
Gibson confessed to the act on one of the recordings when he said that she deserved it. In addition, he told her that she was dressing provocatively and that if she gets raped by a bunch of blacks (using the offensive N-word), it would be her fault. This was not his first manifestation of racism. Gibson had a reputation in Hollywood as a man who would regularly do or say something inappropriate. On top of that, he told Oksana at the time that he would come home and set the whole house on fire, but that she would have to satisfy him orally first.
Mel Gibson commented on these recordings in an interview with Deadline, where he admits to being disgusting and angry with himself for this behavior. At the same time, however, he added that the recordings lack the context of a crumbling relationship at the peak of arguments and hatred from both sides, and that this does not represent his personality and how he has treated people all his life.
He has earned himself a stop sign from Hollywood for his behavior. Director and screenwriter Shane Black said he considers him to be on a Hollywood blacklist and no one is willing to work with him anymore. It took several years for him to be forgiven.
Return to Hollywood
Eight years have passed since the major scandal in 2006, and Mel has been given a chance to direct again. The choice fell on the long-prepared war drama Hacksaw Ridge, which hit theaters in 2016, exactly ten years after Mel's career began to decline. So between 2006 and 2016, he didn't shoot anything and only performed in the drama Beaver, Expendables 3 and a few weak films.
In the style of Gibson's talent, Hacksaw Ridge was also nominated for an Oscar, in 6 categories, including Best Film and Direction (the film eventually won two Oscars for editing and sound mix).
It happened after Gibson earned a 10-minute standing ovation at the Venice Film Festival. Hollywood seems to have forgiven Gibson, and the prominent filmmaker was free to fully return to his passion and direct films again.
Yet, the star has not returned. On one hand, he was already over 60 years old at the time, and on the other hand, the days when the famous and popular actor on the poster was enough for people to visit the cinema were long gone. His best acting performance in recent years is undoubtedly Dragged Across Concrete by the talented Craig S. Zahler (Block 99 and Bone Tomahawk).
Here he confirmed that he's not completely rusty yet. However, behind the camera suits him much better now and we believe that we will see more great films from him. He is currently preparing The Passion of the Christ 2 and, as a director, also filming the western called The Wild Bunch. As an actor, he's preparing several interesting films that might turn out to be above average.
Mel Gibson's case is somewhat of a "miracle" at a time when actors and creators in Hollywood are cancelled for homophobic, racist and other unacceptable behavior. Throughout his career, he had homophobic, racist and anti-Semitic remarks, was convicted of domestic violence and had alcohol problems.
Nevertheless, he always managed to get back up and Hollywood gave him a second chance. We don't know if he deserves it, but we're definitely happy to be able to enjoy his directing and acting talent again.
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