Playback: Mel Gibson on ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ and Being Defined by Dark Chapters

Playback Podcast: Mel Gibson on 'Hacksaw
Courtesy of Rob Latour/REX/Shutterstock

Welcome to “Playback,” a Variety podcast.

On today’s episode Jenelle Riley and I take stock of “Moonlight’s” big box office weekend in limited release. The film grossed $414,740 on four screens for a per-screen average of $103,675. We also turn over some ideas for Oscars host, as the Academy takes its time in putting together the creative team for the upcoming 89th annual Academy Awards.

Later on (19:20) I’m talking to “Hacksaw Ridge” director Mel Gibson about his return to the director’s chair after 10 years, the changing landscape of the film business in that time and his desire to close dark chapters in his life and not allow them define him and his work.

For more, listen to the latest episode of “Playback” below. Check back next week when I’ll be talking to “Miss Sloane” star Jessica Chastain, and be sure to subscribe!

I talked to actor Andrew Garfield about Gibson’s new film last week. It’s the story of conscientious objector Desmond Doss, a medic who refused to carry a weapon in World War II but saved countless lives all the same.

“You try to keep the rust off,” Gibson says about being away from directing while taking on a few roles in the meantime. “Although I kind of had to blow the cylinders out on this one. But it was great to get back in the chair, and it’s like riding a bike. Except now, 10 years later, the budgetary limitations and the time limitations, the challenges are greater in that regard. So you have to go in and be far more judicious about how you shoot and what you shoot. But it’s not the same industry it was. If you’re not making a superhero movie about someone in spandex, nobody gives you a budget.”


'Hacksaw Ridge' film premiere

Mel Gibson on Andrew Garfield in ‘Hacksaw Ridge’: He Was a ‘Real Superhero’

Gibson’s last film as director was “Apocalypto” in 2006. In July of that year, he was arrested in Malibu for drunk driving and was recorded spouting anti-Semitic remarks that have left many inside the industry and out feeling that they can’t support him or his films. It recalls the oft-considered notion of separating the art from the artist, which is something “The Birth of a Nation” director Nate Parker is weathering this year as well.

So how does Gibson process that, knowing there are people who feel so strongly that they can’t watch his movies?

“Ten years have gone by,” Gibson says, noting that he hasn’t discussed the incident and its fallout to this extent before. “I’m feeling good. I’m sober, all of that kind of stuff, and for me it’s a dim thing in the past. But others bring it up, which kind of I find annoying, because I don’t understand why after 10 years it’s any kind of issue. Surely if I was really what they say I was, some kind of hater, there’d be evidence of actions somewhere. There never has been. I’ve never discriminated against anyone or done anything that sort of supports that reputation. And for one episode in the back of a police car on eight double tequilas to sort of dictate all the work, life’s work and beliefs and everything else that I have and maintain for my life is really unfair.”

We also talk about fonder memories, like the 1996 Academy Awards where Gibson’s film “Braveheart” won five Oscars including best picture and best director. And is there hope for one last ride in the “Lethal Weapon” role of Martin Riggs that really lit the spark for Gibson’s career 30 years ago?

Find out the answer to that and a whole lot more in the streaming link above.

Subscribe to “Playback”:


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  1. Howie Levit says:

    Nichnas yayin, yatza sod—“Wine enters, secrets emerge.” – Old Jewish saying

  2. IT--II--IT says:

    INTEL RUN Hollywood and its FAUX ‘mavericks’

    What’s left to say ? – – -as RED CHINA handover TREASON ‘wraps up’ ???

  3. Kevin Rob says:

    And a great apprerance in The Expendables 3 in 2014. Probably juggling the director and actor makes him creative

  4. Martin says:

    He was great in the second Mad Max film (Road Warrior), which is the franchise that built his rep. I can separate the man from his art, which is why I still watch (fill in the blank).

  5. NYCS says:

    Great interview. Equal parts knowledgeable and ballsy. Kudos.

  6. skabak says:

    Too bad this creep has resurfaced and we all have to again review his past behavior. Why should we forgive him for his manifestations of hatred and racism so chronicled by the media in the years past. Shall we turn a blind eye to his rantings and ravings filled with the bile of his own ignorance and prejudice because of his ability to make works of artistic savagery? I think not. Et pro se ipso factis.

  7. Observer says:

    Who’s not flawed huh?

    Who did he rape? Murder? Burn alive?
    Which of us has never said something they regretted? Had difficulties with issues such as bipolar disorder or some ailment?
    A person shouldn’t be weighed alone by a moment of their lifetime.

    And what about all the good the guy has done, does that not carry weight? Ask Robert Downey Jr.

  8. If I remember correctly, there was another situation incident during which Gibson displayed his anti-Antisemitism. He also his “Passion” film on the most anti-Semitic of the Gospels. His threatening abusive behavior toward his wife (or was it girlfriend?) was scary and insane.
    Thus, I will not attend any film with which Gibson is associated. However, it’s a free country, and I have no argument with anyone who chooses to hire and pay him or anyone who chooses to attend his films.

    • Ari Manuel says:

      If Gibson’s idol Adolph wasn’t defeated, he would have swept the boards in Europe..Bad break for both Third Reich advocates.

  9. BAR says:

    People say and do things when they are drunk, it happens, it always has and always will…this episode for Mr Gibson reminds me of the saying about Police Officers…their good points are written in ‘sand’ and can be forgotten about with the slightest breeze but their bad points are written in ‘stone’ to be seen and remembered always…it was said a decade ago, he’s appoligised for it, so get over it ….

  10. liitl diva says:

    Get over it people, he paid the price, effing …… won’t let it go !

  11. WandaSes says:

    Please can we stop comparing Mel to Nate Parker? Yes they both have problems with passing the blame, but Mel didn’t rape an unconscious girl. What he said was inexcusable but it is very different to make horrific statements and to do horrific things. Mel did make a public apology at the time, however genuine or in-genuine it was, which Nate Parker has till this day failed to do. It’s not fair to keep putting them in the same bucket. Mel needs to stop blaming the press, which is just doing its job, but otherwise he deserves a second chance. Nate Parker as far as I’m concerned should never work in this town again and no one will miss him.

  12. Sue P says:

    I find it interesting that Mel’s greatest movie, The Passion of the Christ, didn’t even get a mention.

  13. howard rubin says:

    whether you were drunk or sober, your anti Jewish comment still stands. You, as well as father are bigots to no end and your timid apology does not seem to be realistic. I will never see one of your movies or walk across the street. You are a racist and there is no diminishing your behavior.

    • millerfilm says:

      Judaism is just another religion, no different or better than any other. If he had gone of on Catholics, Muslims, what have you, no one would have batted an eyelash.

    • Noneya says:

      guess your the guy that sits back and never says anything, Then you do, and you realize that, well maybe that wasn’t PC (pfft, do you wear spandex) Cause you are the person you are trying not to be…

    • wow….judgemental much?

    • John G. says:

      I live in the Middle East. There is an unbelievable amount of anti-Jewish prejudice in this region. When people around you have it, especially someone as intimate as your father, it can be hard to shake. As far as we know, Mel has never discriminated against Jewish people in his career. At his weakest moments, he’s repeated some ugly sentiments that he’s been exposed to, but no one seems to believe that he’s acted on these sentiments.

      In the US, my home country, tolerance can sometimes almost be taken for granted. Mel has been around some very bad, but sadly very common, stuff. He deserves at least a little benefit of the doubt. He has suffered a lot for his father’s ugly beliefs and the environment he may have been raised in.

  14. Mel completing ignoring what he said in those tapes in 2010 (which, by the way, were WAY worse than what he said in 2006). That doesn’t count!

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