The Double Life Of Mel Gibson

After a brutal scandal essentially left him persona non grata in Hollywood, actor Mel Gibson is forging yet another comeback attempt with his sobering World War II drama Hacksaw Ridge (2016). This time, he's also presenting himself as an actor who's ready to move on from the past, who can go back to doing goofy things on late-night talk shows and talking about hot-button issues. While many critics have given him the "okay," other people aren't exactly ready to forgive and forget, much as Gibson apparently wants. Here's why Gibson's comeback might be another struggle—and why that struggle might be justified.

He claims he never discriminated against anyone

In October 2016, Gibson made a curious comment to Variety that caused some other outlets to raise an eyebrow. "I've never discriminated against anyone or done anything that sort of supports that reputation," he said.

"That reputation" stems from his infamous DUI arrest in 2006, during which he allegedly told arresting officers that "the Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world," according to the arrest report.

Looking back on it now, Gibson—whose hit 2004 movie The Passion of the Christ was accused by some of being anti-Semitic—has downplayed the event, placing some of the blame on alcohol and on one of the officers. "It was an unfortunate incident," Gibson said. "I was loaded and angry and arrested. I was recorded illegally by an unscrupulous police officer who was never prosecuted for that crime. And then it was made public by him for profit, and by members of—we'll call it the press. So, not fair. I guess as who I am, I'm not allowed to have a nervous breakdown, ever."

"Ten years have gone by," he added. "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."

He also offered a similar response on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert in November 2016.

But he was much more apologetic 10 years ago...

On some level, it's understandable that Gibson wants to move on from the scandal. How else is he going to win back audiences? Still, the comments he shared with Variety strike an alarmingly different tone than the public and rather humbling apology he gave to the Jewish community (via the Anti-Defamation League), among other outlets, in 2006. "There is no excuse, nor should there be any tolerance, for anyone who thinks or expresses any kind of Anti-Semitic remark. I want to apologize specifically to everyone in the Jewish community for the vitriolic and harmful words that I said," he wrote. He even offered to "meet with leaders in the Jewish community, with whom I can have a one on one discussion to discern the appropriate path for healing."

"The tenets of what I profess to believe necessitate that I exercise charity and tolerance as a way of life," he said. "Every human being is God's child, and if I wish to honor my God I have to honor his children. But please know from my heart that I am not an anti-Semite. I am not a bigot. Hatred of any kind goes against my faith."

For what it's worth: the ADL was reportedly unsatisfied with his apology.

And willing to make fun of his remarks...

Gibson may say he's ready to move on from the scandal, but in January 2016, he appeared more than willing to re-hash it—in a light-hearted way, at least—at the 2016 Golden Globe Awards. During the ceremony, host Ricky Gervais referenced Gibson's "blame the Jews" quote, as well as another quote from his arrest report, in which he allegedly referred to a female police officer as "sugar t**s."

Despite the embarrassing moment, Gibson played it off with humor, saying, "I love seeing Ricky once every three years, because it reminds me to get a colonoscopy." The remark got a few laughs from the audience, although some watching at home weren't all that happy he was there to begin with. Convenient when it's funny, huh?

And what about the time he snapped at a Jewish reporter?

Although Gibson claims he's never discriminated against anyone, he has in the past used language that some may view as discriminatory—or at the very least offensive. One example of this came in early 2010 while Gibson was promoting his new movie at the time, Edge of Darkness. It being one of Gibson's first major releases since his DUI arrest, the actor inevitably fielded questions about what happened.

Unfortunately for him, some of his responses weren't exactly, you know, helpful for his comeback. Take, for example, the time Gibson asked a Jewish reporter with a CNN affiliate if he had a "dog in this fight" after the reporter asked if Gibson's absence from Hollywood was due to his arrest. Gibson's quick remark made national headlines, creating another embarrassing situation for the actor and forcing him to issue an apology to the reporter, according to CNN. It didn't help that Gibson's remark came around the same time he referred to another reporter who asked him similar questions about the 2006 scandal as an "a**hole."

And the time he was caught using racial slurs?

Gibson's no-good, very-bad 2010 got even worse in July when he was caught on tape spewing racial epithets during a heated argument with his then-wife, Russian pianist Oksana Grigorieva. In one report by Radar Online, Gibson reportedly took issue with Grigorieva's appearance, alleging that the way she dressed could get her "raped by a pack of n***ers" and that, if it happened, "it will be your fault." In a separate report, Radar Online reported that Gibson also used the racial slur "wetbacks" during their fight. "I will report her to the f**king people that take f**king money from the wetbacks," he was heard saying. The tapes were reportedly recorded in secret during the couple's breakup and custody battle over their only child together, Lucia.

And the time he made derogatory comments about women?

In addition to Gibson's use of racial slurs, the aforementioned tapes also made headlines for the offensive language Gibson used to describe Grigorieva, which included calling her a "filthy little c**ksucker," "whore," and "f**king c**nt." Even crazier, the tape also alluded to an incident in which Gibson allegedly hit Grigorieva and broke her teeth ("You f**king deserved it," Gibson said) and demanded she perform oral sex on him.

Incidentally, when he spoke about the release of the tapes to Deadline in 2011, Gibson used a defense similar to the one he presented in his 2016 Variety interview. "I've never treated anyone badly or in a discriminatory way based on their gender, race, religion or sexuality—period," he said. "I don't blame some people for thinking that though, from the garbage they heard on those leaked tapes, which have been edited."

"You have to put it all in the proper context of being in an irrationally, heated discussion at the height of a breakdown, trying to get out of a really unhealthy relationship," he continued. "It's one terribly, awful moment in time, said to one person, in the span of one day and doesn't represent what I truly believe or how I've treated people my entire life."

He tried to keep the tapes hidden

Gibson worked hard to suppress the release of the tapes, and according to TMZ, the tapes would have been kept secret had Grigorieva stuck to the $15 million settlement she initially signed in May 2011. She later walked away from the deal, claiming she signed it under duress, and wound up with only $750,000 in August of that year, according to the Los Angeles Times.

That dollar amount was reduced even further by an appeals court in August 2016. According to TMZ, the settlement from August 2011 stipulated that Grigorieva would "forfeit the balance" if she talked about her domestic abuse allegations she had made against Gibson, to which he pleaded no contest in March 2011. Lo and behold, she did just that in a 2013 interview with shock jock Howard Stern, according to TMZ. By the time of the court ruling, Gibson had paid Grigorieva $250,000, so that's reportedly all she'll ever get from that settlement.

He's also made offensive comments about the gay community

Back in the '90s, when he was one of the most successful and beloved actors in Hollywood, Gibson was still making comments about minorities that were deemed offensive by many. Take the remarks he reportedly made to the Spanish newspaper El Pais in 1991 about gay men: "They take it up the a**...this is only for taking a s***," he said at the time, according to The Advocate. "With this look, who's going to think I'm gay? I don't lend myself to that type of confusion. Do I look like a homosexual? Do I talk like them? Do I move like them?"

Even worse, Gibson practically bragged about the incident in an interview published in 1995. "The next day I was doing an interview on national television and was asked, 'So, are you going to apologize? You've offended the community.' I said, 'I'm not apologizing to anyone. I'll apologize when hell freezes over. They can f*** off,'" he said, according to Vanity Fair.

The Advocate adds that Gibson "agreed to peace talks with the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation" years later.

He's all for gun reform

The issue of gun control has been a hot topic throughout 2016, so it only made sense for Gibson to broach the subject, especially while promoting his World War II drama, Hacksaw Ridge. "Well, I understand where it comes from, the right to bear arms because the Revolution and that stuff and tyranny and the right to defend yourself, and I still agree with that, but it's kind of out of balance at the moment..." he told Fox News. "... Something has to be done in order to stop some of the heinous violence that has [occurred] just like sporadically and shockingly."

"I don't know what the answer to that is..." he added. "It's going to take someone smarter than me to figure that out."

Yet his movies are insanely violent

It's a bit ironic to hear Gibson talk about violence considering just how violent some of his movies have been. Lest we forget the drama surrounding The Passion of the Christ, which was so intense that multiple people actually died during screenings. Gibson's excessive violence on the big screen continued with Apocalypto (2006), which was described by some critics as "grotesque" and "relentless." The violence in Hacksaw Ridge has also been cited by critics, although, in Gibson's defense, at least that film is actually earning rave reviews.