Interviews


Mel Gibson


Occupation: Actor, Director, Producer
Date of Birth: January 3, 1956
Place of Birth: Peekskill, N.Y., USA
Sign: Sun in Capricorn, Moon in Virgo
Relations: Wife: Robyn Moore; kids: Hannah, Edward, Christian, William, Louis, Milo, Thomas
Education: National Institute of Dramatic Arts, Sydney, Australia

 

RAISED in Australia from the age of 12, Mel Gibson was the sixth of his parents' eleven kids. His father, a brakeman for the New York Central Railroad, moved the family from the United States to his mother's native Sydney, Australia, for financial reasons (he sustained an on-the-job injury), but also to protect his older sons from the Vietnam draft. Gibson graduated from a Catholic high school with dreams of becoming a chef or a journalist, but instead landed at the National Institute of Dramatic Art at the University of New South Wales after his sister submitted an application to the institution in his name. While still a student, Gibson earned his film debut in a cheap flick called Summer City, in which he played a surfer dude named Scollop. After graduation, he joined the State Theatre Company of South Australia and appeared in a number of classical and contemporary productions before neophyte director George Miller, who just might have been the only person charmed by his work in the abominable Summer City, invited Gibson to audition for the titular role in his post-apocalyptic action film Mad Max. The night before the audition, Gibson received a serious thrashing in a barroom brawl that left him with a face "like a busted grapefruit." He must have looked the part of the futuristic hero Mad Max with his fresh stitches and swollen, bruised mug, because he nabbed the assignment. The 1980 film became the highest-grossing Aussie movie in history, and in 1982, the even more successful sequel, The Road Warrior, was released in the States to ecstatic crowds  Gibson's star had become visible from all continents.

With director Peter Weir's World War I epic Gallipoli, Gibson vaulted over the hazardous action-picture trap and won the Australian Film Institute Award for Best Actor. The ambitious The Year of Living Dangerously may have left everyone befuddled by its convoluted plot-line, but The Bounty and Mrs. Soffel underscored the dawning reality that Gibson was a fine actor as well as a nice-looking chap (in 1985, he was named People's first ever "Sexiest Man Alive"). But he did not let the action hero languish: as a loopy, suicidal cop in the 1987 mega-hit, Lethal Weapon, he proved he still had boffo box-office appeal. Gibson had earned the right to play both sides: no one laughed when he starred in Hamlet or directed The Man Without a Face, but fans were relieved to see the $100-million-grossing Maverick in 1994. Gibson donned a Scotsman's kilt and kicked English ass as Braveheart's William Wallace, and the film earned him Oscars for Best Director and Best Picture. In 1996, Gibson helmed the Ron Howard nail-biter Ransom, playing a daring airline tycoon who takes matters into his own hands when his son is kidnapped. He co-starred opposite Julia Roberts in the thriller Conspiracy Theory, and summer 1998 witnessed him pulling out all the stops in Lethal Weapon 4.

Gibson kicked off 1999 with a starring role in the low-budget indie thriller Payback, in which he played a murder-minded professional thief seeking revenge against his unfaithful wife and a fellow criminal who have double-crossed him. Summer 2000 brought a brace of disparate, high-profile outings: he voiced a brash American rooster named Rocky in Aardman animators Peter Lord and Nick Park's ingenious poultry farm homage Chicken Run; and he headlined as a minuteman who reluctantly joins the Revolutionary War in Roland Emmerich's The Patriot. Upcoming projects include Costa-Gavras' Deadline Salonika, in which he'll portray George Polk, the CBS correspondent who was killed while investigating the questionable activities of Greek Foreign Minister Constantine Tsaldaris in 1948; and a Warner Bros. adaptation of the Ray Bradbury novel Fahrenheit 451 that he will both star in and direct.

As for his personal life, back at the ranch in Australia, Gibson plays it pretty straight; in a refreshing twist, he seems to take his family more seriously than his movies. He and his wife of over 20 years, Robyn, have seven children, ranging in age from 20 to toddler.

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