“There are some graves I will piss on”: Mel Gibson in frank form at SFF

01 July, 2016 by Harry Windsor

Mel Gibson in Blood Father.


Mel Gibson was in characteristically frank form during a wide-ranging chat at the Sydney Film Festival last week.

During a one-hour conversation with the Oscar winner, the Herald's Garry Maddox noted that Alcoholics Anonymous meetings bookend the actor's new film, the action-thriller Blood Father.

"Did you have to do some research into that world?", asked Maddox, with more than a little cheek.

"12-step programs? I've researched that anyways," said Gibson. "I had to do that stuff, otherwise you don't survive." 

"They call it the spiritual path of a psychopath. There's only three options: you go insane, you die, or you quit. That's the harsh reality of that stuff. So yeah, I'm an old hand at that." 

Written by The Town's Peter Craig and Straight Outta Compton's Andrea Berloff, Blood Father is threaded with black humour, a perfect fit for Gibson's sardonic streak.

"As actors, I think we're always looking for a yuck. Always seeking approval. Humour is a great way in to anything."

The amount of roles he's offered has decreased, the Braveheart star said, and most of the stuff coming his way is comedic – "Playing the grumpy dad whose daughter the hero wants to date, that kind of thing."

Gibson revealed to The Guardian in May that Marvel asked him to play the father of Chris Hemsworth's Thor in 2011, but he declined.

"One minute you're being asked to play Thor," said Maddox, "the next you're being asked to play Thor's dad."

Gibson: "Yeah, there you go. I'm a bit Thor about that."

Asked how it felt to have turned 60, Gibson talked of "the realisation that the third act had begun." 

"I don't know where it's gonna take me. My father is 98. So he's had a long third act. I don't know if I want a long third act, but I'd like a full one. I really love working. I love being in action, and I hope my mind stays attuned." 

Asked if his character's mea culpas in Blood Father was the actor apologising to his audience for past indiscretions, Gibson was blunt: "No".

"Stuff that you harbour, you just have to let it go," he said. "You can't do a damn thing about it. Women go through menopause and I think men go through the same thing, an andropause kind of thing. And then you settle down, I hope. I don't want to go back to the early 50's." 

Stuffing up in the public eye "sucks," Gibson said. "You just outlive it. There are some graves I will piss on. They don't even have to be dead. But it's better if they are." 

The Hacksaw Ridge director also publicly addressed for the first time the allegations of assault made against him last year by a News Corp photographer in Sydney. 

"It's a scary thing, because people can just accuse you of assault when you haven't done it. Which happened to me last year. It's ridiculous. Luckily there was a witness and CCTV cameras, so the cops didn't charge me, but you never get an apology from these people and they write damaging articles, and it's annoying." 

Being famous means losing "something vital early on," said Gibson: "Personal anonymity". 

"It's a very precious thing, and you never get it back. It's like trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube. I can't go and hang out in the hotel lobby – not that I want to, but you know what I'm saying."

Gibson noted that directing was more of a priority than acting these days, and that the sequel to The Passion recently revealed by THR was "a long way off".

"It'll be a very complex structure to do a rendering of something in the book. It's about the perspective from which you look at it."

Gibson has been in Sydney on and off for the last twelve months, on the same Fox Studios backlot where George Miller shot pick-ups on Fury Road and Ridley Scott is currently shooting Alien: Covenant.

What did Gibson think of Mad Max: Fury Road?

"I liked it. I thought it was visually spectacular and marvellously edited. It smacked you in the face. I went to the premiere in LA with George and laughed through it, which is for him a compliment." 

Did you feel any pangs, asked Maddox? "No, I looked at it and thought of the agony I would have gone through, spinning around on those fishing poles," said Gibson. 

Asked how Miller lost best director to The Revenant's Alejandro González Iñárritu, Gibson said: "I don't know how that thing operates. Well, he certainly worked hard." 

Success in moviemaking, according to Gibson, is akin to preparing a roast dinner that people enjoy. 

"It's the same with a film. The more people that see it and enjoy it, the more gratifying it is. Not everybody has to dig it, either. If the fur's not flying sometimes you're not doing anything."