After months of silence following the leak of threatening phone calls between himself and the mother of his child, Oksana Grigorieva, Mel Gibson finally broke his silence. In a wide-ranging interview with Deadline’s Allison Hope Weiner, Gibson talked – sometimes openly, sometimes evasively – about his personal shame, the friends who’ve stood by him, and where his damaged career goes from here. He also vehemently denied the notion that he’s a racist and misogynist.
“I’ve never treated anyone badly or in a discriminatory way based on their gender, race, religion, or sexuality – period,” he said.” I don’t blame some people for thinking that though, from the garbage they heard on those leaked tapes, which have been edited. 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.”
When asked if audiences were so upset with him that he wouldn’t be able to continue as an actor, Gibson, who stars in the upcoming Jodie Foster film, The Beaver, replied, “I don’t care if I don’t act anymore … I could easily not act again. It’s not a problem. I’m going to do something now because I want to do it and because it’s fun. I’ve already pulled another job and it’s going to be fun. I don’t know if it’s going to get off the ground, but I’m going to go work for [Best Picture Oscar winner Braveheart’s screenwriter] Randy Wallace again. He’s got this script and he’s had it for years … it’s almost like Alexandre Dumas – like that swashbuckler kind of stuff … It’s total bodice-ripping swashbuckling stuff, but it’s funny. It’s funny and yet it’s got really good serious undertones too. Randy writes a decent script. And I responded to it right away. I thought this is hilarious. I’ve got to do this. And I’m not the main guy in the film – which is great.”
Regarding the plea Gibson made in court for allegations that he hit Grigorieva, Gibson said: “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. 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.”
In the interview, Gibson also seemed grateful for the support of celebrity friends and defenders like Foster and Whoopi Goldberg. “I knew Whoopi before she was Whoopi … She’s great and I always liked her and loved her. I like her even more now because she got it.” As for Foster, he gushed, “I’d give her a pedicure every day of the week if I could. We met on Maverick many years ago … She totally surprised me. I knew she was bright, so that didn’t surprise me. She was really bright. And she was pragmatic and extremely sensitive and a good heart, a real good heart. So how could you not become friends? … 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. I can empathize with her. From four years of age, she’s been out there. And it’s not that for me, but almost, because I was a baby when I started. I was probably more developmentally arrested at the age of 21 than she was at four. [Laughs] 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 also said that he doesn’t blame those who didn’t come to his defense. “That doesn’t bother me,” he said. “Why would anyone want to speak publicly and drag themselves through this crap? It seems to add fuel to the fire. Very many people are supportive, of course, but you find out who your friends are. I have many friends and they’ve been great.”
Discussing his upcoming film, The Beaver, Gibson hinted that the movie’s themes of depression and desperation specifically appealed to him. “A guy said to me one time, something really profound, and it’s so simple,” he said. “It’s that depression lies. It’s a liar and you have to shut it down. There is nothing that alleviates it more than going out and doing something for someone else. It’s almost like instant healing. Get away from yourself. People can’t even get out of bed and it gets really severe. I’ve never been at that stage. Everyone goes through low and high and low and high and some people are blessed to be created on an even keel all the way through – but not me.”