Though Gibson settled with the production company behind the movie, Voltage Pictures, in April, he said in a statement that it was “unfortunate for all concerned that this film was never finished as written” and denied producers’ claims that he and Safinia walked off set and forced the movie to go over-budget. In a new statement, Safinia backed up Gibson, agreeing with him on the version audiences will end up seeing.
“I would like to add to Mel Gibson’s recent statement regarding ‘The Professor and The Madman,’ ” Safinia wrote. “I echo Mel’s correction of the record that neither of us ever walked off set, nor caused the film to ever go over budget. I would also like to clarify some misreporting saying that we had demanded reshoots and additional scenes to be shot. We never asked for either. All we had ever asked was for the shooting script to be completed. It never was. Numerous essential scenes set in Oxford as well as multiple indispensable scenes set in Broadmoor Asylum were never shot leaving substantial portions of the script incomplete with irreparable gaps in performance and basic story logic. This meant that I was never able to prepare any kind of coherent cut and had no involvement in the version that is being released.”
“This film was a 12 year labor of love for me,” the statement went on. “I saw the crew deliver work on it that was truly extraordinary, and do so under difficult conditions. The cast, led by Mel Gibson and Sean Penn, turned in beautiful performances across the board. Mel and his partners at Icon, Bruce Davey and Vicki Christianson, went to superhuman lengths in trying to complete the film. Sean Penn and Simon Winchester, the author of the beloved book on which the project is based, gave steadfast support during a very difficult and disheartening unraveling of events over the last few years. Unfortunately, all of our efforts and entreaties were not to bear fruit. Mel described what is being released as a bitter disappointment. It is the same for me. It will remain one of my greatest regrets that the film we all thought we were making will never be.”
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The film is bowing in theaters this weekend.
Gibson had sued Voltage in 2017, alleging that it had reneged on a deal to give him approval of the final cut. A trial had been set for May 6, but Gibson’s attorney notified the court prior to that date that the case had been settled. Terms were not disclosed.
The story follows Gibson as Professor James Murray, the lexicographer who edited the original OED. Sean Penn plays the role of William Minor, who contributed to the dictionary from the confines of a lunatic asylum.