Because man has yet to build a beaver puppet big enough to talk to the whole wide world, it stands to reason that Mel Gibson will have to negotiate his own way back into the public trust. Today marked Day One of those tentative talks, as Gibson submitted to the first interview (published here at Deadline) since those wildly experimental basement tapes were released, and his name quickly became synonymous with blowjobs, Jacuzzis, and house fires. Not that Gibson believes that was a fair assessment: Looking back on those infamous phone calls where he violently threatened ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva and dropped random racial epithets, Gibson termed it “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.” (It’s true: Gibson’s other incidents of racist remarks—the drunken anti-Semitic rants to cops in 2006, the whole “oven dodgers” thing—well, those were about the Jews.)
In keeping with that, while Gibson admits that while he regrets what he said, his general feeling seems to be that his privacy was invaded, and thus the experience has made him more or less fed up with the business of being a celebrity: “I don’t care if I don’t act anymore,” Gibson says, adding “I could easily not act again. It’s not a problem.” Though in the same breath, he confirms that he will, in fact, act again, most immediately on a movie he describes as “like Alexander Dumas… total bodice-ripping swashbuckling stuff, but it’s funny” for Braveheart screenwriter Randy Wallace. Throughout his tone seems to waver like this, vacillating between jaded and defiant, and championing the people who still believe in him one minute while also saying he won't be hurt if audiences turn their backs on him because "I'm way beyond that."
The rest of the interview is more or less Gibson evading any discussion of his legal battle with Grigorieva (due to pending custody decisions, he says), diplomatically dismissing the job he lost on The Hangover II (“You have to let that go”), giving shout-outs to Whoopi Goldberg and Jodie Foster for their support (“I’d give [Foster] a pedicure every day of the week if I could”—sorry, Whoopi), and doing the usual celebrity thing of wondering aloud why anyone would ever be so fascinated with his personal life. “Why is that of interest to anyone?” Gibson asks when the subject of his relationship with Grigorieva is brought up. “It always baffles me. Why is that of interest to anyone?” Well, it could be those years that Gibson spent trying to make Grigorieva a pop star, thus making his private life very public, and practically forcing the press to take notice of her for his own investment’s sake. Or it could be the whole “blow me before the Jacuzzi” thing, which you have to admit—you don’t hear that every day.
Not that Gibson is pressed much on these matters: Interviewer Allison Hope Weiner lends a very sympathetic ear, shying away from asking pointed follow-ups (like whether or not he actually hit Grigorieva, as he pled guilty to doing) and often framing things as though Gibson is weathering some sort of storm—like when she links his current problems to his 2006 DUI arrest and asks whether he has to “compartmentalize things so you can keep working when you’re at the center of something like this?”—without ever suggesting that said storm was whipped up entirely by his own huffing and puffing. Thus, it’s a “candid” interview where its subject doesn’t really admit to much, other than feeling slightly victimized. As we’ve been following Gibson’s arc from the manic expressionism of those early demo tapes to his current output in terms of jazz, I suppose you could compare this to Miles Davis’ You’re Under Arrest—a smoothed-out pop effort that doesn’t quite fit with the rest of his discography, and even though it comes from an honest place, it still leaves the listener a little cold.