As the controversy over Mel Gibson's rage-fueled rant tapes and domestic violence probe continue to unfold, the site that has leaked those shocking recordings, RadarOnline.com reported that one of the "Lethal Weapon" actor's upcoming projects has lost its leading man.
"Inception" star Leonardo DiCaprio has reportedly withdrawn from a planned movie chronicling the exploits of Viking warriors that Gibson was slated to direct. "Not a chance," said an unnamed source close to DiCaprio.
The site claimed that the latest setback to Gibson's once-blockbuster Hollywood career — he was dropped by his longtime talent agency in the wake of the tape scandal — is another signal that the actor/director may have difficulty bouncing back from his latest scandal and regain his once high-flying star status.
The Viking film would have been DiCaprio's first project with Gibson, but the unnamed source said that the meticulous actor — who has avoided a major public scandal during his nearly 20-year long career in movies — did not want to risk his reputation by being associated with Gibson.
"Leo has earned the right to pick and choose who he works with, and Mel Gibson is not one of them," the source reportedly said. A spokesperson for DiCaprio could not be reached for comment at press time. The untitled Viking movie was being co-produced by Gibson's Icon Productions and was slated to begin shooting in the fall.
DiCaprio recently spoke to MTV News about his desire to make a Viking epic with Gibson saying, "I've always wanted to do Viking Story. I'm a big history buff and I don't think there's been a really fantastic Viking film ever made. Those were some of the most barbaric people ever in history. I'd love to see Mel Gibson's version of that. Certainly with 'Apocalypto' and some of the other films he's made he's been able to transport me back in time unlike very many filmmakers have been able to ... I'd love to see what he does with that subject matter."
In addition to the embarrassment over the racist, sexist and violent language on the tapes, Gibson is being investigated for alleged domestic violence and child endangerment over claims that he struck ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva while she was holding the couple's then two-month old baby. Detectives from the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department are also looking into claims that Grigorieva attempted to extort money from Gibson by threatening to release the tapes.
Gibson's spokesperson could not be reached for comment on the DiCaprio news; the spokesperson also has not denied that the breathless, rage-fueled voice on the tapes is Gibson.
The meltdown of Gibson's personal life has had a major impact on his public one as well, putting his upcoming projects into limbo. Among the movies currently in a holding pattern is the Jodie Foster-directed "The Beaver," a $20 million PG-13 dramedy in which Gibson plays a depressed CEO who can only communicate with his family through a beaver hand puppet. According to E! Online, the film just recently got a rating from the MPAA, but the studio behind it has not yet decided on a release date.
Also unknown is the fate of "How I Spent My Summer Vacation," which his still in production and features Gibson portraying a career criminal who survives in a Mexican prison thanks to the help of a young boy. Gibson is credited as the script author and producer on "Summer," which reportedly began filming in April, but has not gotten a release date yet.
Do you think Gibson's career can survive this scandal? Would you go see a new movie from Mel? Leave your comments below.