Friday, July 18, 2008

Mel Gibson - Australia’s Leading Man Of The Screen

Thanks, Wikipedia.

Mel Gibson, one of my favourite film stars from Down Under, was in Malaysia last week. I met him at the KL Hilton Hotel on July 15.

He was in town with his old pal Peter MacNicol (of Ally McBeal, Dragonslayer and Sophie’s Choice fame) as a guest of prominent Malaysian businessman and philanthropist Datuk Vinod Sekhar.

Vinod was attending a dinner organised by accounting firm Grant Thornton in the hotel. The company honoured him with the Corporate Leader Of The Year Award, its first ever in Malaysia.

The Award carried a pledge by the firm to assist an international humanitarian project of Vinod’s choice and he chose The Foundation For Anthropological Research And Environmental Studies or FARES which is headed by Gibson.

FARES is working hard to preserve the Mirador Basin in Guatemala which is the cradle of Mayan Native American civilisation.

Gibson is a two-time Academy Award-winning Australian-American actor, director, producer and screenwriter.

Born in the United States, Gibson moved to Australia when he was 12 years old and he later studied acting at the National Institute Of Dramatic Art in Sydney.

After establishing himself as a household name with the Mad Max and Lethal Weapon series, Gibson went on to direct and star in the Academy Award-winning Braveheart.

Gibson's direction of Braveheart made him the sixth actor-turned-filmmaker to receive an Oscar for Best Director.

In 2004, he directed and produced The Passion Of The Christ, a blockbuster movie that portrayed the last hours of the life of Jesus on Good Friday.

Gibson is an honorary Officer Of The Order Of Australia and was ranked the world's most powerful celebrity in the annual list by Forbes magazine in 2004.

Mel Columcille Gerard Gibson was born on January 3, 1956 in New York, the United States.

He is the sixth of 11 children and the second son of Hutton Gibson and Irish-born Anne Reilly.

His father is of Irish, Welsh, Scottish and English descent with a dash of Roma (Gypsy, from Gujarat in India).

His paternal grandmother was the British Australian opera soprano Eva Mylott (1875–1920).

One of Gibson's younger brothers, Donal, is also an actor.

Gibson's first name comes from Saint Mel, the fifth century Irish saint and founder of Gibson's mother's native diocese (church district), Ardagh, while his second name, Columcille, is also that of an Irish saint.

Columcille is also the name of the parish (sub-district) in County Longford where Anne Reilly was born and raised.

Because of his mother, Mel Gibson holds dual citizenship in America and the Republic of Ireland.

When Gibson was 12, Hutton relocated his family to Sydney, Australia.

The move to Hutton's mother's native Australia was for economic reasons and because Hutton thought the Australian military would reject his oldest son for the Vietnam War draft.

Growing up, Mel Gibson considered becoming a journalist and a chef.

On his elder sister Mary’s advice, he joined the National Institute Of Dramatic Art (NIDA) in Sydney.

The students at NIDA were classically trained in the British-theatre tradition rather than in preparation for screen acting.

After graduation in 1977, Gibson immediately began work on the filming of Mad Max, but continued to work as a stage actor and joined the State Theatre Company of South Australia in Adelaide.

At the beginning of his acting career, Gibson also appeared in pilots for Australian television series including The Sullivans.

While a student at NIDA, Gibson made his film debut in the 1977 film Summer City.

After being cast in Mad Max by Australian doctor-turned-director George Miller, Gibson began his first lead role in 1977 at the age of 21 on the day after he graduated from drama school.

Gibson also played a mentally-slow youth in Tim, which earned him the Australian Film Institute Award for Best Actor In A Leading Role.

The release of Mad Max in 1979 made Gibson internationally famous overnight.

Gibson joined the cast of the World War II action film Attack Force Z, which was not released until 1982 when Gibson had become a bigger star.

Director Peter Weir cast Gibson as one of the leads in the critically-acclaimed World War I drama Gallipoli, which earned Gibson another Best Actor Award from the Australian Film Institute.

The film Gallipoli also helped to earn Gibson the reputation of a serious, versatile actor.

The sequel Mad Max 2 was his first hit in America (released as The Road Warrior).

In 1982 Gibson attracted critical acclaim in Peter Weir’s romantic thriller The Year Of Living Dangerously.

Following a year’s hiatus from film acting after the birth of his twin sons, Gibson took on the role of Fletcher Christian in The Bounty in 1984.

Playing Max Rockatansky for the third time in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome in 1985 earned Gibson his first million dollar salary.

Mel Gibson’s first American film was Mark Rydell’s 1984 drama The River in which he and Sissy Spacek played struggling Tennessee farmers.

He then took on the role of Martin Riggs in Lethal Weapon, a film which helped to cement his status as a Hollywood star.

Gibson’s next film was Robert Towne’s Tequila Sunrise, followed by Lethal Weapon 2 in 1989.

After starring in three films back-to-back, Bird On A Wire, Air America and Hamlet, Gibson took another hiatus from Hollywood.

During the 1990s, Gibson used his box office power to alternate between commercial and personal projects.

His films in the first half of the decade were Forever Young, Lethal Weapon 3, Maverick and Braveheart.

He then starred in Ransom, Conspiracy Theory, Lethal Weapon 4 and Payback.

Gibson also served as the speaking and singing voice of John Smith in Disney’s Pocahontas.

In 2000, Gibson acted in three films that each grossed over $100 million: The Patriot, Chicken Run and What Women Want, the all-time top-grossing romantic comedy.

In 2002, Gibson appeared in the Vietnam War drama We Were Soldiers and M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs, which became the highest-grossing film of Gibson’s acting career.

While promoting Signs, Gibson said that he no longer wanted to be a movie star and would only act in films if the scripts were truly extraordinary.

After his success in Hollywood with the Lethal Weapon series, Gibson began to move into the areas of producing and directing.

With partner Bruce Davey, Gibson formed Icon Productions in 1989 in order to make Hamlet.

In addition to producing or co-producing many of Gibson's own star vehicles, Icon has turned out many other small films such as Immortal Beloved.

Gibson has taken supporting roles in some of these films, most notably The Million Dollar Hotel and The Singing Detective.

Gibson has also produced a number of projects for television, including a biopic on The Three Stooges.

Gibson has credited his directors, particularly George Miller, Peter Weir and Richard Donner, with teaching him the craft of filmmaking.

Gibson made his directorial debut in 1993 with The Man Without A Face, followed two years later by Braveheart, which earned Gibson the Oscar for Best Director.

In 2006, he directed the action-adventure film Apocalypto, his second film to feature sparse dialogue not spoken in the English language.

On July 25, 1997, Gibson was named an honorary Officer Of The Order Of Australia (AO), in recognition of his "service to the Australian film industry".

Gibson received two Academy Awards, Best Director and Best Picture, for his 1995 direction of Braveheart. In the movie, Gibson starred as Sir William Wallace, a 13th century martyr of Scottish nationalism.

In 2004 Gibson directed The Passion Of The Christ which was rendered in Aramaic (Ancient Syrian Arabic), Latin (Ancient Italian) and Hebrew (Ancient Israeli).

Gibson co-wrote the screenplay with writer Benedict Fitzgerald and financed the film himself. The filming took place on location in Matera, Italy.

Gibson got married in 1980 to Robyn Moore, a nurse. They have a daughter, six sons and one grandchild.

Gibson has eclectic tastes in music and is particularly fond of Italian opera.

He is big fan of Italian artist Michelangelo Merisi Da Caravaggio.

Gibson has a reputation for discreetly assisting members of the entertainment community with substance abuse problems.

In 1999, he famously made a “guest appearance” in The Simpsons.

He is currently filming The Edge Of Darkness.