For much of the past year, the only times we've heard Mel Gibson's voice in public were when new snippets of his now-infamous rant tapes were released by Radar Online. You might recall the racist, sexist explosion of rage at Gibson's ex and mother of his infant daughter, Oksana Grigorieva, on the recordings, which were leaked by an unknown source to the site and revealed a dark, disturbing side to the actor whose biggest movies have often been laced with a sadistic streak.
Gibson finally broke his silence on the matter this week, sitting down with a reporter from Deadline Hollywood and explaining that the tapes were made in "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."
After the tape scandal, as well as Gibson's anti-Semitic rant during a drunken driving arrest in 2006, the actor said he realized people might not want to see him in movies again. But with the long-delayed film "The Beaver" slated to hit screens next month and another film in the works, Gibson is resigned to his box-office fate. "I could easily not act again. It's not a problem," he said.
He admitted that, "of course" he regrets what he said on the recordings — which included threats on Grigorieva's life — and that he was angry at himself for what he'd said, but that no one ever expressed any anger toward him about the scandal. And even though he's been a public figure for three decades, Gibson said he was shocked when the tapes ended up online for the world to hear.
"Who anticipates being recorded? Who anticipates that?" he said. "Who could anticipate such a personal betrayal?"
But when asked how people are supposed to feel about the racist, sexist slurs he used, Gibson denied ever discriminating against anyone. "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."
The reporter also asked about the dust-up over his scotched cameo in "The Hangover II," which reportedly was pulled after cast members complained about working with the tainted star. "You have to let that go," he said, responding to the rumors for the first time. "I sat here and talked to [director] Todd [Phillips] about it. I like Todd. How could you not like Todd? He's smart and he's gifted and so are the other people in the film. It's okay. You just have to let that go."
While some longtime friends such as Whoopi Goldberg and "Beaver" co-star Jodie Foster spoke out on Gibson's behalf, they were in the minority, and the interviewer wondered how the lack of public support from his peers made Gibson feel. "That doesn't bother me," he said. "Why would anyone want to speak publicly and drag themselves through this crap? It seems to add fuel to the fire. Very many people are supportive, of course, but you find out who your friends are. I have many friends, and they've been great."
Though legally barred from discussing his custody proceedings with Grigorieva, Gibson did talk about the plea deal he took in the assault case against his ex, which allowed him to avoid jail time. "I was allowed to end the case and still maintain my innocence. It's called a West plea, and it's not something that prosecutors normally allow," he said. "But in my case, the prosecutors and the judge agreed that it was the right thing to do. I could have continued to fight this for years, and it probably would have come out fine. But I ended it for my children and my family. This was going to be such a circus. You don't drag other people in your life through this sewer needlessly, so I'll take the hit and move on."
Gibson also declined to talk about his divorce from his wife of 28 years, Robyn, citing the lack of privacy in his life due to his fame, but he did say the tape scandal may be the worst thing he's put his family through. "The main thing is that it was terribly humiliating and painful for my family, all my kids," he said. "I had to speak to them with everyone, but my youngest who is blissfully unaware, thank God. Well, she may be aware of it one day, and at that time, I guess I'll just address that. I spent 30 years keeping them away from this kind of thing and I was quite successful. So why should I start now dragging them through that stuff? You try to manage that."