Defiant Mel Gibson returns

The last time Mel Gibson starred in a movie, he was grappling with alien invaders and a misplaced faith in the sci-fi thriller “Signs.”

Mel Gibson is shown in Edge of Darkness: seven and a half years since he’s appeared in a movie.

Mel Gibson is shown in Edge of Darkness: seven and a half years since he’s appeared in a movie.

LOS ANGELES — The last time Mel Gibson starred in a movie, he was grappling with alien invaders and a misplaced faith in the sci-fi thriller “Signs.”

That was seven and a half years ago. In the intervening time, Gibson became a cultural firebrand, directing the controversial 2004 box-office hit The Passion of the Christ and the violent 2006 action epic, Apocalypto.

He also became a cultural pariah in July 2006 when, after being pulled over in Malibu for speeding and driving under the influence, Gibson made obscene, anti-Semitic remarks to the arresting officer after being handcuffed and put inside a police car.

Gibson largely disappeared after the incident but returns to theatres Friday with a new movie, Edge of Darkness, a thriller about a Boston police detective seeking revenge for the murder of his 24-year-old daughter.

Receiving lukewarm reviews so far, the movie is similar in tone to past blood-drenched Gibson films such as Ransom and the Lethal Weapon franchise.

“It was time,” Gibson, 54, tells The Associated Press.

“I felt like getting back in the saddle. I felt like I was getting stale about seven or eight years ago.

“Stepped back, did some things I wanted to do. Did a few things I didn’t want to do. And then, time to come back.”

“I don’t think Mel eases his way back into anything,” says Edge of Darkness producer Graham King.

“Sure, we discussed very early on, Is this the right role for him to come back in?’ I think it is, and hopefully moviegoers will agree.”

Will they? Hollywood.com box office analyst Paul Dergarabedian believes Gibson picked the right movie for his comeback.

“In revenge roles, Mel Gibson has few peers,” Dergarabedian says. “If you’ve been away for awhile, it’s smart to go back to what people are comfortable seeing you do.”

Some, though, question whether Gibson’s public standing hasn’t been permanently damaged.

“I think that drunk-driving tirade confirmed a lot of people’s suspicions about the kind of person Mel Gibson is,” says Matthew Traub, managing director at Dan Klores Communications.

Traub, who specializes in crisis management public relations, believes people are willing to forgive celebrities for substance abuse or sexual indiscretion but draw the line at bigotry.

Publicist Michael Levine, whose agency has represented Bill Clinton and Michael Jackson among others, agrees.

“I think he’s done,” Levine says of Gibson’s career prospects. “He’ll work, he’ll exist, but I think he’s seared his obit for life.”

Gibson defiantly rejects the notion that he’s damaged goods.

“It’s 30 years ago that I lost my own personal anonymity,” Gibson told the AP.

“And it’s 30 years ago that the public humiliation began. And sometimes it reaches a global level. And what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. And I’m telling you right now, I’m one strong (expletive) . . . because I’m right back at you.”

Gibson also insisted his past notoriety will not affect his ability to work with Hollywood studios in the future.

“What scandal?” he says. “That’s mostly newspaper hype, OK?! I can get in with the studio, work with them, or work independently as I wish. And I’ll go on as I always have.”

There’s no doubting that people are still happy to make movies with him. Gibson just completed filming the offbeat comedy, The Beaver, directed by longtime friend Jodie Foster, who plays Gibson’s wife in the movie.

He has written a prison drama, How I Spent My Summer Vacation and will star in that movie later this year.

And he plans to direct Leonardo DiCaprio in a Viking epic that will employ Old Norse dialogue, a movie Gibson says will “put the V in Viking.”

If that sounds a little out there, that’s one reason why many are eager to welcome Gibson back in the fold.

“As a Jew, I have to say Mel Gibson’s my favourite anti-Semite,” says veteran film reporter Lewis Beale.

“He’s an incredibly talented guy both behind and in front of the camera.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

House sales remain hot in central Alberta with first-quarter sales nearly double last year’s numbers. Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff
Central Alberta real estate market hot in 2021

Residential sales nearly double 2020 in first quarter

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer gave an update on Olymel's COVID-19 situation on Wednesday. (File photo by Advocate staff).
Veer addresses rising COVID-19 cases in Red Deer

Red Deer has added nearly 200 cases of active COVID-19 cases in past week

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw and Premier Jason Kenney say the province would look at adding additional COVID-19 measures in the coming weeks if the virus continues to spread. (Photo by Government of Alberta)
Walk-in COVID-19 vaccination clinic to open in Red Deer

Alberta adds 1,345 new cases of the virus

Innisfail RCMP are investigating a single-vehicle crash that happened west of Bowden on March 21, 2021. (File photo by Advocate staff)
RCMP investigate culturally insensitive graffiti at Sylvan Lake school

Sylvan Lake RCMP is investigating a vandalism incident. On April 17 around… Continue reading

A vial of the Medicago vaccine sits on a surface. CARe Clinic, located in Red Deer, has been selected to participate in the third phase of vaccine study. (Photo courtesy www.medicago.com)
Red Deer clinical research centre participating in plant-based COVID-19 vaccine trial

A Red Deer research centre has been selected to participate in the… Continue reading

Vancouver Canucks' Tanner Pearson, right, celebrates after scoring against Toronto Maple Leafs goalie David Rittich during the third period of an NHL hockey game in Vancouver, on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Pearson, Sutter each score twice as Canucks dump Leafs 6-3

Pearson, Sutter each score twice as Canucks dump Leafs 6-3

Everton's Gylfi Sigurdsson celebrates with teammates after scoring his side's second goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Everton and Tottenham Hotspur at Goodison Park in Liverpool, England, Friday, April 16, 2021. (Peter Powell/Pool via AP)
Super League collapses after the 6 English clubs withdraw

Super League collapses after the 6 English clubs withdraw

Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez delivers against the Toronto Blue Jays during the first inning of a baseball game Tuesday, April 20, 2021, at Fenway Park in Boston. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
Bogaerts’ 3-run HR, Rodriguez lift BoSox over Blue Jays 4-2

Bogaerts’ 3-run HR, Rodriguez lift BoSox over Blue Jays 4-2

Pound says Olympic qualifying issues a concern to IOC

Pound says Olympic qualifying issues a concern to IOC

Former University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams is photographed in the stands during the Greater Victoria Invitational at CARSA Performance Gym at the University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, November 29, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Rowing Canada sanctions former head coach of B.C. varsity women’s team

Rowing Canada sanctions former head coach of B.C. varsity women’s team

Ontario Hockey League cancels 2020-21 season as COVID-19 cases surge in province

Ontario Hockey League cancels 2020-21 season as COVID-19 cases surge in province

Lionel Desmond (front row, far right) was part of the 2nd battalion, of the Royal Canadian Regiment, based at CFB Gagetown and shown in this 2007 handout photo taken in Panjwai district in between patrol base Wilson and Masum Ghar in Afghanistan. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Facebook-Trev Bungay MANDATORY CREDIT
Desmond inquiry: Veterans Affairs submits internal review after initial refusal

Desmond inquiry: Veterans Affairs submits internal review after initial refusal

FILE - In this Feb. 18, 2021 file photo State representatives gather at the Capitol, in Phoenix. Two years after Arizona lawmakers repealed a law barring any instruction on HIV or AIDS that that "promotes a homosexual lifestyle," they are close to enacting a broad remake of the state's sex education laws with a particular focus on LGBTQ issues. (AP Photo/Matt York,File)
Arizona governor vetoes strict sex education legislation

Arizona governor vetoes strict sex education legislation

Most Read