About Mel Gibson
By Cathy Richey, the Cathy Factor
Born Mel Columcille Gerard Gibson in Peekskill, New York on January
3, 1956, Gibson was the sixth of 11 children later reared in
Australia, where his father moved the family in 1968 in protest of
the Vietnam war.
Still holding American citizenship, Gibson later returned to the
U.S. to take Hollywood by storm with a string of successful action
movies and at least one attempt at Hamlet.
Although today world famous as a leading Hollywood actor, Gibson
remains today at the center of controversy for his religious views
as director of The Passion of the Christ.
Gibson began his acting career on Australian television and then
went on to debut in one of his most famous roles as Mad Max (later
resulting in two hit Hollywood sequels). His early Australian film
career also included a critically acclaimed performance in
His U.S. movie debut came with a starring role as Fletcher
Christian, in The Bounty playing opposite Anthony Hopkins as Captain
Bligh, later achieving superstar status with the release of the
first in a series of action movies in which he starred as policeman
Martin Riggs in Lethal Weapon alongside Danny Glover.
Gibson next took on the role of Hamlet in 1990, surprising the
critics with a strong performance in the Shakespeare classic, then
appeared throughout the decade in an eclectic mix of movie
performances in such films as the screwball comedy Bird on a Wire
opposite Golden Hawn, and in the sensitive drama Man without a Face,
his directorial debut. Gibson also directed and starred in
Braveheart. He won two Academy awards for Best Picture and Best
Director in 1996.
In 2004, Gibson was at the center of worldwide controversy for
his directing and producing role in The Passion of the Christ,
recounting the last 12 hours of the life of Jesus Christ. The film
spawned an international debate on its merits as historically
accurate, with charges that Gibson's own Catholicism had colored the
depiction of the Jews as violent antagonists within the story, and
fomenting anti-Jewish sentiment. Despite the controversy, the film
went on to take in more than $600 million in tickets worldwide to
become the most successful independent film of all time.
Gibson came under fire from Jewish groups once again after he was
stopped on a Los Angeles highway in July 2006 for driving while
intoxicated, later reportedly spewing anti-Semitic remarks at
police. According to portions of the police report, Gibson at one
point reportedly asked if the officer was a Jew and in a state of
deep intoxication shouted "all wars are started by Jews."
The report was published on TMZ.com, which hinted at a cover-up
by LA police for excising Gibson's comments from the official
record. The controversial actor later apologized for the remarks,
which he described as "despicable".
Gibson went on to write and direct the action film Apoctolypto
released in 2006. Offscreen, more headlines came in 2008 when it was
reported that Gibson had played host to controversial pop star
Britney Spears by inviting her for a vacation at his home in Costa
Rica in May, 2008.
In 2009, Gibson was back in the headlines the devoutly Catholic
actor and Robyn Gibson, his wife of 30 years, announced their plans
to divorce citing "irreconcilable differences". For months
beforehand it was rumored that Gibson and Oksana Pochepa, a Russian
pop star, had begun an affair that had pushed Mrs. Gibson to file
divorce proceedings, setting the stage for one of the most expensive
break-ups in history. With no prenup agreement, Robyn Gibson was
reportedly entitled to half of Gibson's fortune estimated at close
to $1 billion.
Gibson and Oksana had a rocky relationship, and eventually split. In
2010, he narrowly avoided jail when Oksana alleged Mel had assaulted
her during a vicious argument. A number of recordings of the
incident made by Oksana have been leaked, and apparently show Mel
using violent, racist and abusive language towards her.
Despite feeling he was betrayed when his arguments with Oksana
were recorded and made public, Gibson insisted he regrets his