Between 1968 and 1985 Mel resided in Australia. After
establishing himself as a household name with the Mad Max and
Lethal Weapon series, Mel Gibson went on to direct and star in
1993's The Man Without a Face and 1995's Academy Award-winning
Braveheart. In 2004, he directed and produced The Passion of the
Christ, a blockbuster movie that sparked a great deal of
controversy. Gibson's direction of Braveheart made him only the
sixth actor-turned-filmmaker to garner an Oscar for Best
Director. Gibson was also the first person ever awarded
People magazine's "S--iest Man Alive".
Mel Gibson was born in Peekskill, New York, the sixth of ten children born to Hutton Gibson and Anne Reilly Gibson. The family also adopted a child, bringing the total number of children in the family to eleven. One of Mel's younger brothers, Donal, is also an actor.
Mel Gibson's first name comes from a 5th-century Irish saint, Mel, founder of the diocese of Ardagh containing most of his mother's native county, while his second name, Columcille is also linked to an Irish saint. Columcille is the name of the parish in County Longford where Anne Reilly was born and raised.
Although Mel Gibson always maintained his United States citizenship, Mel's father relocated the family to Australia in 1968, after his father won a work related injury lawsuit against New York Central after a seven day trial on February 14, 1968 where the jury awarded him $145,000. The family moved when Mel Gibson was twelve. This move was in protest of the Vietnam War for which Gibson's elder brothers risked being drafted. It is also because Gibson's father believed that changes in American society were immoral.
Mel Gibson graduated from the National Institute of Dramatic Art in Sydney in 1977, and his acting career began in Australia with appearances in television series, including The Sullivans, Cop Shop and Punishment.
Gibson made his Australian film debut as the leather-clad post-apocalyptic survivor in George Miller's Mad Max, which later became a cult hit and launched two sequels. Gibson's international profile increased through Peter Weir's Gallipoli. Gibson's handsome boyish good looks made him a natural for leading male roles.
In 1984, Mel Gibson made his U.S. film debut as Fletcher Christian in The Bounty. Reportedly, Gibson and Anthony Hopkins, his costar on the film, did not get along during the shoot. At the time, Anthony Hopkins was a teetotaler, and Mel Gibson was struggling with alcoholism. Mel Gibson frequently spent his evenings in local saloons and took to mixing two shots of Scotch with his beer. He dubbed the concoction "Liquid Violence". In one incident, Gibson's face was severely cut up in a bar room brawl and the film's shooting schedule had to be rearranged while he was flown to a hospital in Papeete.
Mel Gibson moved into more mainstream commercial filmmaking with the popular Lethal Weapon series, in which he starred as LAPD Detective Martin Riggs, an emotionally unstable Vietnam veteran with a death wish and a penchant for violence and gunplay. In the films, he was partnered with the elder and more reserved Roger Murtaugh (played by Danny Glover). This series would come to exemplify the action genre's so-called buddy film.
Despite having been trained in two different schools of acting (Mel is classically trained and Glover is a method actor), the two shared good chemistry. The film was a major hit and spawned three sequels.
Mel then made the unusual transition from the action to classical genres, playing the melancholy Danish prince in Franco Zeffirelli's Hamlet. Mel 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".
Over the course of the shoot in the Scottish Highlands, Gibson was advised that he would do better with the lines if he were able to control his breathing. A longtime chain smoker, Gibson switched to nicotine gum to moderate his smoking for parts of the shoot.
The film met with critical and marketing success and remains a steady in DVD sales. It also marked the transformation of Mel Gibson from action hero to serious actor and filmmaker. Later in his career, he complemented his dramatic performances with comedic roles in Maverick and What Women Want.
Mel Gibson stated that when the Braveheart script arrived and was recommended by his agents, he rejected it outright. After careful thought, Mel decided to not only act in the film, but to direct it as well.
Mel received two Academy Awards, Best Director and Best Picture, for his 1995 direction of Braveheart. In the movie, Mel Gibson starred as Sir William Wallace, a thirteenth-century Scottish freedom fighter.
Mel Gibson said in interviews that he was attempting to make a film similar to the epics he had loved as a child, such as Stanley Kubrick's Spartacus and 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 Ireland, where members of the Irish Army Reserve worked as extras in the battle scenes.
Mel co-wrote, produced and directed the controversial The Passion of the Christ. The 2004 film was based on the last twelve hours of the life of Jesus, rendered multilingual in Aramaic and Latin.
Reviews were mixed, with critics ranging from praising the film for its realistic depiction of Jesus' final hours from a Catholic point of view and criticism of violence, manipulation and charges of anti-Semitism.
Asked if his movie would "upset Jews", Mel Gibson responded, "It's not meant to. I think it's meant to just tell the truth. I want to be as truthful as possible." Accusations of anti-Semitism were fueled by revelations that Gibson's father Hutton Gibson is a vocal Holocaust denier who believes much of the Holocaust is "fiction".
On his decision to cut the scene in which Caiaphas says "his blood be on us and on our children" soon after Pontius Pilate washes his hands of Jesus, Mel Gibson said:
I wanted it in. My brother said I was wimping out if I didn't include it. But, man, if I included that in there, they'd be coming after me at my house. They'd come to kill me.
The movie grossed US$611,899,420 worldwide and $370,782,930 in the US alone. It became the eighth highest-grossing film in history and the highest-grossing rated R film of all time. The ticket sales were boosted by the film attracting viewers who generally do not attend theaters, including entire church congregations. 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.
Mel Gibson's next historical epic, Apocalypto, will be released to theaters in December 2006. The film is set 600 years ago in Mesoamerica, before the Spanish conquest. It focuses on the decline of the Maya civilization. Dialogue is spoken in the Yucatec Maya language, in the same way Gibson used Aramaic and Latin for his The Passion of the Christ. It will feature a cast of unknown actors from Mexico City, the Yucatán, and some Native Americans from the United States.
While Mel Gibson financed the film himself, Disney will release it in specific markets.
All that has been revealed about the plot is that the film is set against the turbulent end times of the once great Mayan civilization. When a Mayan man's idyllic existence is brutally disrupted by a violent invading force, he is taken on a perilous journey. Through a twist of fate and spurred by the power of his love for his woman and his family he will make a desperate break to return home and to ultimately save his way of life.
The title is a Greek term which means "an unveiling" or "new beginning", but the movie is not religiously themed or connected to the biblical Apocalypse.
Disney insists that Apocalypto will be released as scheduled. Mel Gibson recently pre-screened Apocalypto to two Native American audiences in Oklahoma, at the Riverwind Casino in Goldsby, owned by the Chickasaw Nation, and at Cameron University in Lawton.
On June 7, 1980, Mel Gibson married Robyn Moore, a nurse whom he met through a dating service. They have seven children, one daughter and six sons: Hannah (born 1980), twins Edward and Christian (born 1982), Willie (born 1985), Louis (born 1988), Milo (born 1990), and Tommy (born 1999).
Although Mel Gibson is Roman Catholic and his wife is
Anglican, he has never disapproved of her beliefs, saying that
"true love knows no boundaries." He has also called her his
"Rock of Gibraltar, only prettier". But he also holds to the
Catholic doctrine of "Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus", if only
grudgingly. When asked how this doctrine would affect his wife
he said: "There is no salvation for those outside the Church,
(and) I believe it. My wife is a saint. She's a much better
person than I am. Honestly. ... 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.”
Hannah Gibson, Mel's eldest child and only daughter, married the musician Kenny Wayne Shepherd on Sepetember 16th, 2006. She had previously considered becoming a Catholic nun or religious sister, but realized her vocation was to be a wife and mother.
Although the Gibsons have avoided publicity over their philanthropy, they are believed to spend much money on various charities.
One known charity is Healing The Children. According to Cris Embleton, one of the founders, the Gibsons have given millions to provide lifesaving medical help to needy children worldwide.
While filming the movie Apocalypto in the jungles of Mexico's Veracruz state, the Gibsons donated money to build houses for poor people in the region.
Many of Mel Gibson's positions are in accordance with traditionalist Catholicism. In 2004, he publicly condemned taxpayer-funded embryonic stem-cell research that involves the cloning and destruction of human embryos. In March 2005, Mel issued a statement condemning the ending of Terri Schiavo's life, referring to her death as "state-sanctioned murder" on Sean Hannity's radio show. He is a proponent of the death penalty, which the traditional doctrine of the Catholic Church allows for under specific circumstances, but which post-Vatican II Popes have said is rarely justifiable in modern society.
Mel Gibson has expressed the belief that God is pointing out his path, particularly with respect to the making of The Passion of the Christ. In 2003 he told The New Yorker "There are signals. Signal graces, they are called. It's as clear as a traffic light. Bing! I mean, it just grabs you and you know you have to listen to that and you have to follow it." At a screening of the film for clergy, he stated that the Holy Spirit was making the film through him, "I was just directing traffic".
While having never identified himself as being a conservative Republican, Mel has been referred to as one in The Washington Times, and WorldNetDaily once reported that there was grassroots support among Republicans for "a presidential run".
Mel Gibson praised the liberal director Michael Moore and his documentary film Fahrenheit 9/11. Mel's Icon Productions originally agreed to back Moore's film, but abruptly sold the rights to Miramax Films. Moore has claimed that "top Republicans" intimidated Mel Gibson into relinquishing the film.
In a July 1995 interview with Playboy magazine, Mel Gibson said President Bill Clinton was a "low-level opportunist" because someone was "telling him what to do". He said he thought Clinton and other politicians who had won Rhodes Scholarships were part of a "stealth" trend of Rhodes scholars becoming politicians who were striving for a "new world order." He said this was a form of Marxism.
In 2006 Gibson told a UK film magazine that the "fearmongering" depicted in his film Apocalypto "reminds me a little of President Bush and his guys."
Mel Gibson has expressed strong opinions of his critics. In a Playboy interview, he says of the author of an unauthorized biography, "I don't think God will put him in my path. He deserves death." After Frank Rich of The New York Times wrote that Gibson's Passion of the Christ would inflame anti-Semitism, Gibson told The New Yorker, "I want to kill him. I want his intestines on a stick. I want to kill his dog."
Some gay rights groups accused Mel Gibson of homophobia, after a 1992 interview in the Spanish magazine El Pais. Asked what he thought of gay people, he said, "They take it up the ass." Gibson gestured descriptively, continuing, "This is only for taking a s---." When the interviewer recalled that Mel Gibson previously had expressed fear that people would think he is gay because he's an actor, Mel replied, "Do I sound like a homos--ual? Do I talk like them? Do I move like them? I think not." However, when reminded that he had worked closely with gay students at university, he said they were "kind people." Additionally, he later defended his comments on Good Morning America, saying, "Those remarks were a response to a direct question. If someone wants my opinion, I'll give it. What, am I supposed to lie to them?" In the Playboy interview, he responded to GLAAD's protests over his comment with "I'll apologize when hell freezes over. They can f--- off". Eventually, however, to make amends with the gay community and show he was no longer homophobic, Mel Gibson and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation hosted ten lesbian and gay filmmakers for an on-location seminar on the set of the movie Conspiracy Theory.
Although Mel Gibson did not write the screenplay for Braveheart, the depiction of a homos--ual character in the film drew accusations of homophobia. Although historians agree that Prince (later King) Edward II of England was a mere puppet of Thomas of Lancaster, they dispute the portrayal of Edward as effeminate. Edward's father, also, never threw his lover out of a window as portrayed in the movie.
Mel Gibson was accused of homophobia once more in his movies with his portrayal of Herod Antipas in The Passion of the Christ. Antipas is portrayed as an effeminate homos--ual wearing makeup and having 'boy-toys'. The character was similar portrayal of the same character in the film version of Jesus Christ Superstar. Although this was a common caricature of Herod in medieval Passion plays, it is contrary to the historical record regarding Antipas. It is of note that the Greek text has Christ describing Herod as a "vixen", or female fox, rather than "fox" in the Gospel.
Mel Gibson was further accused of Anglophobia following the release of The Patriot in 2000. The movie depicted the British in an extremely negative light and took many liberties in its depiction of the American character played by Gibson. It should be noted however that Gibson did not write the screenplay or direct the movie.
According to Wensley Clarkson's unauthorized biography, Gibson's Irish-American family has always been openly anti-British. Clarkson further cites family friends and relatives who allegedly told him that Gibson's maternal grandmother was raped by the Black and Tans during the Irish War of Independence.
Controversy regarding anti-Semitic opinions allegedly expressed by Gibson has flared up on at least two occasions.
In 2004, his film The Passion of the Christ was criticized for alleged anti-Semitic imagery and overtones. Gibson strongly denies that the film is anti-Semitic, but critics remain divided. Many agree that the film is consistent with a strict interpretation of the Gospels and traditional Catholic teachings, while others argue that it reflects a selective reading of the Gospels, incorporates disputed anti-Semitic elements not found in the Gospels (e.g. the writings of beatified stigmatic Anne Catherine Emmerich), and fails to comply with recommendations for dramatization of The Passion issued by either the Vatican or the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
On July 28, 2006, Gibson was arrested in California for speeding and on suspicion of drunk driving (see: Mel Gibson DUI incident). According to a leaked police report, he was abusive to the arresting officers and remarked "F---ing Jews… Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world." He later issued, through his publicist, two apologies for the incident. In his second statement, he specifically denied being an anti-Semite and apologized to the Jewish community. Anti-Defamation League National Director Abraham Foxman issued a statement accepting Gibson's apology and expressing a willingness to help in Gibson's rehabilitation.
Mel Gibson has a reputation for being a prankster on the set of his movies, and many of his leading ladies have often accused him of acting juvenile on the set. Helena Bonham-Carter, who appeared alongside him in Hamlet (1990 film), said of him, "He has a very basic sense of humor. It's a bit lavatorial and not very sophisticated." While filming Conspiracy Theory, he played several pranks on co-star Julia Roberts, one of which included gift wrapping a dead rat. He also disgusted co-star Jodie Foster by licking the dirt off a wagon wheel on the set of Maverick. On the set of Braveheart, he spread the false rumor that co-star Sophie Marceau was the granddaughter of famous French mime Marcel Marceau. He also directed several scenes while impersonating Elmer Fudd, including the funeral scene of Murron Wallace, causing everyone to break down laughing. Before the filming of What Women Want, co-star Helen Hunt pleaded with Mel Gibson to be spared of his pranks. Reportedly, there was no incident.
According to Mel Gibson biographer Wensley Clarkson, Mel Gibson's alcoholism dates to his teenage years. Clarkson also states that Gibson's repeated attempts to stop drinking have led to relapses whenever his stress level increased. A feature article on Gibson published on the DailyCatholic website March 17, 2004, described as having been written four years previously and before The Passion of The Christ, states, "He has made it known that from an early age he suffered from being manic depressive, but through his strong faith and appropriate medicines he has been able to overcome these shortcomings to attain the heights of stardom." This disorder is often linked with alcohol abuse and/or self-destructive behavior.
Mugshot taken after arrest on DUI chargesIn 1984, Gibson was arrested for drunk driving after he rear-ended a car in Toronto. According to Clarkson, when the other driver exited his vehicle and began shouting profanity at him, Gibson laughed and offered him a drink. He was fined $400 and banned from driving in Canada for 3 months.
In 1991, Mel Gibson began treatment for alcoholism at the urging of his agent Ed Limato and his wife Robyn, who reportedly threatened to leave him if he refused. He has stated that he often meditated on The Passion while attempting to beat alcoholism and has said that his idea for the film dates from this time.
In a 2004 Primetime interview with Diane Sawyer, Gibson admitted to drug and alcohol abuse. Gibson also said that his addictions have led him to contemplate suicide.
On July 28, 2006, Gibson was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said. According to the Sheriff's statement, Gibson was detained while driving along the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu at 2:36 am, and spouted expletives, s--ist, and anti-Semitic comments. He was later released on his own recognizance.
On August 17, 2006, Mel Gibson pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor drunken-driving charge and was sentenced to three years on probation. Mel could have been sentenced to as long as six months in jail. He admitted making anti-Semitic remarks during his arrest and apologized, saying the comments were "blurted out in a moment of insanity."
Mel Gibson announced he was entering a recovery program to battle alcoholism, and he asked to meet with Jewish leaders to help him "discern the appropriate path for healing." Gibson did not appear in court, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office said.
Superior Court Judge Lawrence Mira ordered Gibson to attend Alcoholics Anonymous 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 fined $1,300 and his license was restricted for 90 days. He also volunteered to record a public service announcement on the dangers of driving drunk and volunteered to immediately enter into a rehabilitation program.
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