Mel Gibson Breaks His Silence Over Leaked Rants, Denies Bigotry
Mel Gibson has finally opened up about the explosive audio recordings between himself and ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva that leaked onto the Internet last summer, inspiring a backlash many believe has killed the Oscar winner”s career.
“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,” Gibson tells Deadline. “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.”
According to interviewer Allison Hope Weiner “there were no pre-set conditions, no topic off limits and no ground rules” for the sit-down, though Gibson was legally prohibited from discussing certain topics due to ongoing litigation. Gibson openly discussed the tapes, being dropped from “The Hangover 2″ because the cast didn”t want to work with him, the support he received from Whoopi Goldberg and Jodie Foster and the prospect of never acting again.
Asked if he ever thought the hate-filled conversations would end up on the Internet, Gibson sighed and shook his head, saying, “Who anticipates being recorded Who anticipates that Who could anticipate such a personal betrayal”
Though the actor was unable to discuss the terms of the various agreements he”s reached with Grigorieva, he did comment on the no contest plea to charges of misdemeanor battery that resulted in him receiving three years probation and one year of domestic violence counseling.
“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,” the actor says. “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.”
Gibson insists repeatedly that his is not a violent, racist, sexist or homophobic person, but rather the tapes were recorded at a particularly tumultuous time in his life — “at the height of a breakdown,” he says. Interestingly, a corresponding take on the actor was presented in a lengthy Vanity Fair profile late last year. Peter Biskind, the article”s author, indicated that “none of the colleagues and associates I spoke to [for the Vanity Fair piece] noticed any indications of anti-Semitism, racism, gay-bashing, or spousal abuse.”
“If ["Lethal Weapon" director Richard] Donner thought he was working with a real anti-Semite, he never would have had anything to do with Gibson. That”s serious stuff with him,” production designer Paul Sylbert, who worked with Gibson on Donner”s “Conspiracy Theory,” told Biskind. Added “The Patriot” producer Peter Winther, “[Producer] Dean Devlin is a Filipino Jew from the Bronx, a total mutt. He and Mel became fast friends.”
Gibson”s issues seem rooted in a drinking problem that has periodically plagued the actor for the entirety of his career. “He told me that when he drank this whole other character came out, and it was very self-destructive,” Dean Devlin told Vanity Fair. The magazine presented a portrait of a loose-cannon with a troubled private life, problems with substance abuse and complex relationship with his father.
The actor also addressed his 2006 DUI arrest, during which Gibson made numerous anti-Semitic comments to police officers, with Deadline. Hope Weiner asked Gibson, “When you were pulled over for the DUI in Malibu, weren”t you separated from your wife”
Gibson responded simply: “The next day.”
Following the leak of his rants against Grigorieva, few spoke out in the actor”s defense. His “Maverick” co-star and director of his latest film “The Beaver,” Jodie Foster, as well as Whoopi Goldberg, were among those who publicly supported the actor.
Of Foster, Gibson says, “We became fast friends and we maintained that over the years. We”ve both had our different little journeys. It”s untraditional. But there are a lot of things we have in common. … You couldn”t get two people who are more diametrically opposed on everything that they think about religion and politics than what we do. But there is a core of goodness there that”s undeniable and I just love her.”
He has similar words of praise for Goldberg: “I knew Whoopi before she was Whoopi. And, as she”s great and I always liked her and loved her. I like her even more now because she got it.”
Gibson does, however, understand why so few came forward with words of encouragement. “That doesn”t bother me. Why would anyone want to speak publicly and drag themselves through this crap It seems to add fuel to the fire,” he tells Hope Weiner. “Very many people are supportive, of course, but you find out who your friends are. I have many friends and they”ve been great.”
He also seems at peace with the controversy that erupted when castmembers from “The Hangover 2″ refused to work with him, leading director Todd Phillips to drop Gibson from the film and cast Liam Neeson in a cameo role that has since, due to Neeson”s inability to make it to reshoots, been recast to feature director-actor Nick Cassavetes (“The Notebook”). He ever sang the director”s praises.
“You have to let that go. I sat here and talked to [director] Todd [Phillips] about it. I like Todd. How could you not like Todd He”s smart and he”s gifted and so are the other people in the film. It”s okay. You just have to let that go,” Gibson says. “You just move on and go okay. I”m not greatly offended by it. It seemed like a good idea at the time and it went south.”
Gibson filmed his latest movie, “The Beaver,” before the tapes were leaked, and as the well-received film”s release date nears, the question of whether it will save his career seems to matter to everyone in Hollywood except the actor himself. “I don”t care if I don”t act anymore,” he told Hope Weiner.
For the entire interview, visit Deadline.
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