C'mon Hollywood: Get Mel Gibson back in the game!
Yesterday, THE EXPENDABLES 3 began principal photography and we caught our first glimpse of the film’s villain looking exceptionally “pumped up” and ready for action. That “villain” is none other than Mel Gibson, the Academy Award winning director of BRAVEHEART and star of a laundry list of outstanding films, to include the LETHAL WEAPON series, the MAD MAX series, MAVERICK, RANSOM, PAYBACK, THE PATRIOT, WE WERE SOLDIERS, and SIGNS. Even his in-between films have a certain charm, resonating with many folks as classics in their own right.
Seeing that pic of Mel yesterday reminded me of one of his greatest attributes as a filmmaker and actor: Commitment. Gibson has rarely given less than his all (no one can excuse BIRD ON A WIRE) and adds a gravitas and power to each and every project he’s attached himself to, acting or otherwise. I would venture to say that he’s evolved into a fantastic director, perhaps even surpassing his skills as an actor. BRAVEHEART speaks for itself, and whether you’re religious or not, there’s no doubting the deftly crafted THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST or heart-pounding electricity that is APOCALYPTO. But, Gibson’s career was abruptly cut short by the one thing that crashes down on many a star’s head: his personal life.
Now, we’ve gone down the road of Gibson’s past behavior before, gleaned from phone calls, e-mails, and “sources” that paint a less than desirable portrait of the aging star. Certainly, if you’ve entertained that material, usually culled from the dregs of tabloid journalism, then it’s influenced your opinion of the man to some degree. And, there’s truth in that mire of bullshit, but I personally don’t see it as enough to convict the man of the sentence of life without a decent movie role or the chance to direct another film. In fact, that’s the real crime. In the years since his ostracization from the Hollywood elite, Gibson has paid a hefty price.
For some, it’s a price he had to pay. Our sense of justice varies by our own moral and societal scale, so it’s easy to nod our heads and say that, yes, he deserved to suffer. Some may feel that all is right in the world with Gibson’s state of being in the industry. Well, that’s just fine for those that feel that way. I can’t speak to any extremes of Gibson’s behavior beyond what I’ve heard from the various leaks and secondhand accounts. I’m not an attorney, a cop, or a judge involved in his cases. I’m a movie fan. A hardcore movie fan at that, and one that would like, more than anything, to see Gibson released from his “prison” with time served so he can get back to doing what he does best: Acting and directing.
Hollywood can be a fickle bitch and when she leaves you, she takes everything plus the ice cube trays. Now, Gibson isn’t short on cash last I heard, but he’s been on the blacklist long enough that even the cast of THE HANGOVER wouldn’t work with him. In the time since he reemerged in 2010 with EDGE OF DARKNESS, Gibson has had a difficult climb back into the saddle, compounded almost exclusively by his personal life. He starred in THE BEAVER, which was a tremendous performance that couldn’t have been more ill timed, as it coincided with more of his controversies, leaving the hugely underrated film mostly ignored. Since then, Gibson experimented with the VOD market, making a terrifically solid action romp, GET THE GRINGO, and has since had difficulty finding footing in any genre or market.
However, Gibson has seemingly embraced this “bad guy” image and found a new niche to explore: the villain. Taking the lead foil for both Robert Rodriguez’s MACHETE KILLS and Stallone’s geriatric action nostalgia franchise sequel THE EXPENDABLES 3, Gibson is jumping into a different shade of his career with this type of role, which is affording him the spotlight once more. I think it’s a sound and smart decision on his part and shows his awareness of where he is and where he wants to be. My only fear is that it becomes a typecasting problem, but I believe Gibson is stronger than that.
Which brings me back to Gibson’s resolve; his commitment. Seeing Gibson pumped (literally) and ready to get back in the game makes me happy, because it shows that he’s not done. He’s not going to go quietly and I’d expect no less from the man. I don’t know Mel Gibson. I likely never will. No more than I’ll know or connect with many of the people whose work I’ve admired throughout my life. But, as a fan, it is my hope that he will recapture his career, find new footing, and launch back into the kind of work that we all know he’s capable of, rather than scraping the bottom of the barrel just to stay in the game. Gibson is better than that and in the long run we’re all being robbed of a filmmaker and actor who has proven his skill time and time again.
I don’t care about Gibson’s personal life, barring some major horrific crime. In truth, if we knew all the sordid details of every celebrity we admire, from phone calls, e-mails, videos, and more, we’d likely run out of heroes real quick. We are all flawed, in many ways, but that does not place us beyond redemption. It just makes us human and Gibson is a very talented one. So, for the sake of those who want to see a talented actor/director make some more great work before he passes on from this world, I think it’s high time to let the man out of his shackles and get on with it. There are movies to be made here, people!
If you won't listen to me...at least listen to IRON MAN...
|Extra Tidbit:||Gibson has had a number of projects on the burner, including his Viking pic, Berserker, and the historical Maccabees film. He has declined to do another Lethal Weapon unless director Richard Donner was involved. What do YOU think would suit Mel best going forward? More importantly, what do YOU want to see him do?|