…one hot Los Angeles night in July 2006, Gibson, who has a history of drinking problems, was stopped for going 80-plus in a 45-m.p.h. zone on the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu. An open bottle of tequila was found in the car; his blood-alcohol level exceeded the legal limit. When arresting officer James Mee gave him not a script to read—an indulgence that is not uncommon in those parts—but a citation instead, Gibson said out of nowhere, “Fucking Jews … the Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world.” And then he added, “Are you a Jew?” Even those who had withheld judgment when he released The Passion of the Christ cried “Aha!”
The reaction in Hollywood was swift. Sony head Amy Pascal, who had earlier refused to consider him for a role in the studio’s remake of All the King’s Men, now suggested an industry boycott, while Endeavor partner Ari Emanuel denounced Gibson in the Huffington Post, writing, “The entertainment industry cannot idly stand by and allow Mel Gibson to get away with such tragically inflammatory statements. … Now we know the truth. And no amount of publicist-approved contrition can paper it over.” Sidney Sheinberg, the former president of MCA, simply called Gibson a “putz.”
And that was only Act One. Four years later, having separated from his wife, Gibson became embroiled in a riveting, highly publicized battle with Oksana Grigorieva, a dark-haired, sloe-eyed Russian beauty, with lips fixed in a permanent do-me pout. This new scandal was a gift from, well, heaven for Gibson-bashers and voyeurs everywhere. She accused him of breaking her front teeth with a blow that glanced off her jaw and grazed the chin of their infant daughter, whom she was holding at the time. Even more damaging were audiotapes of Gibson roaring imprecations at her while panting and grunting like an animal, which were leaked to RadarOnline.com and released last July. Gibson is heard saying that Grigorieva deserved a “bat to the side of the head,” that if he wanted he could plant her “in a … rose garden,” and that “I am going to come and burn the fucking house down … but you will blow me first.” Castigating her for wearing provocative clothing, he also said, “You look like a fucking bitch in heat, and if you get raped by a pack of niggers, it will be your fault.” The blizzard of charges and countercharges that have buffeted him ever since have made him a fixture on the gossip sites.
So what caused it? Alcohol.
In private, he has been remorseful. “He told me that when he drank this whole other character came out, and it was very self-destructive,” Dean Devlin recalls. “He said, ‘It’s not like I won those fights. I lost every one of them.’ It was behavior that he was not proud of. He confessed that there were these demons that he always fought, and he was doing everything he could to redeem himself.”
And a lot of anger.
If Gibson has largely succeeded in keeping his anger under wraps on movie sets, all too often it surfaced in interviews. It wasn’t only what he said but how he said it, the violence of his invective. He never just muttered, “I don’t like so-and-so,” or even “I hate so-and-so.” Once he got going, he quickly wandered into the valley of evisceration, dismemberment, and death. In 2003 he famously denounced New York Times columnist Frank Rich for scolding him about The Passion of the Christ, saying, “I want to kill him. I want his intestines on a stick. … I want to kill his dog.” Speaking about one of his unauthorized biographers, he once said, “I have to pray for the guy who did it so I don’t kill him. Because the motherfucker hasn’t got any balls. He’s a pussy and I hope I never meet him, because I’d tear his fucking face right off!”
Or his dad.
The truth is, nobody really seems to know what makes Gibson tick. But all roads lead back to Hutton Gibson. Donner observes, “Mel is a product of his father. We love our parents, they can do no wrong, and if they teach us lies, it begets a tremendous conflict in our lives. If you delve into that, you’ll learn a lot of things about him.” According to one source, Gibson and his father “both remember every single thing they ever read. Verbatim. The problem with that is that you don’t really have a filter, over what’s credible and what isn’t credible.”