BEVERLY HILLS, California — The last time Mel Gibson acted in a movie was before Mel would conquer Hollywood with “The Passion of the Christ” — and then fall from his throne amid a slew of ugly anti-Semitic slurs.
Now, Gibson is back in front of the cameras with “Edge of Darkness,” one of several films he plans to act in over the next few years. We caught up with the controversial-but-nonetheless-legendary actor/director and his co-star Ray Winstone to discuss the flick about a man seeking to find his daughter’s killers, as well as his rusty acting chops and the reasons he walked away in the first place.
MTV: Mel, it’s been seven years since you’ve acted in a movie. When I Googled your name, the first thing that popped up was a headline that said: “Does Mel Gibson still have it?” So I wanted to ask you: Does Mel still have it?
Mel Gibson: I still don’t know; I never knew whether I had it in the first place.
Ray Winstone: You’re asking me that, and he’s sitting next to me? For me, to go and work with him and watch him go to work was an education — and that’s how making films should be. You should learn every time you go to work. It was an honor and a pleasure.
Gibson: I walked away because I was feeling stale and bored by acting. I got into the directing thing, producing, writing all that sort of stuff. Now, it felt like it was time to hop back in the saddle. This was a strong, compelling piece of work, a good story.
MTV: Is it like riding a bike? Or were there any acting skills that you found were a bit rusty?
Gibson: Oh, of course you’re rusty. You’ve gotta blow out the pipes a few times. But you know, after a couple of failed starts, you get off the deck and get going again.
Winstone: I think you can be a bit rusty after six months, can’t you really?
Gibson: Yeah, you can. But there’s another adage that says — an old wise man told me this, he was an old acting teacher of mine — if you really want to rejuvenate your creative juices, walk away from your chosen spear of expertise for a while. Dig a ditch, do something with your hands, do something different and then come back, and magically your creative juices will be rejuvenated.
MTV: So are you going to turn into the new Michael Caine now? Are we going to see five movies from you within the next year?
Gibson: [In a Michael Caine voice] Well, I’ve been thinking about it. [Laughs.]
MTV: We’ve seen a lot of revenge movies over the years: The “Death Wish” movies, “Death Sentence,” “The Brave One,” even your “Payback.” What separates this movie from those?
Gibson: I think the core of it — it’s a very strong emotional core, and a father/daughter relationship. This is about a guy who has to fulfill something that he probably failed to do for his daughter when she was alive. He has to do it posthumously, and he sacrifices himself in the process. It’s a one-way ticket. That’s why it’s the edge of darkness, I guess. It explores those themes of parenthood, loss, grief and breakdown — and there’s also nothing like a good old-fashioned mystery.
MTV: There’s a lot of blood in this. Would you consider it a violent movie?
Gibson: No; this is not violent. Look at “Inglourious Basterds.” Is this as violent as that?
Winstone: “Braveheart,” I thought, was pretty violent. The battle scenes were unbelievable. In fact, films started changing and doing battles more like the way you did it in “Braveheart.”
MTV: Well, any movie where you don’t get disemboweled in the end is a good thing.
Gibson: Yeah, I think so. No one likes that.
Check out everything we’ve got on “Edge of Darkness.”
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