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article imageMel Gibson talks about his new thriller Edge of Darkness Special

By Earl Dittman     Jan 21, 2010 in Entertainment
After directing the box office hits The Passion Of The Christ and Apocalypto, Gibson has returned to his first love – acting. And, he's making up for his seven years away from the screen by starring in the conspiracy thriller Edge Of Darkness
Mel Gibson, the American-born, Australian-reared 53-year-old actor, explains why it was finally time to act again in director Martin Campbell's brutal, vengeful, conspiracy thriller Edge Of Darkness after spending time behind the camera as a director for the past seven years filming The Passion Of The Christ and Apocalypto. Gibson reveals why he chose Edge Of Darkness as his acting comeback project, if he'll appear in the fourth Mad Max film and whether or not he worked-out for his new role.
During a recent, intimate gathering of several national journalists along with Gibson at one of Santa Monica's more swank, out-of-the-way hotels, Mel also recalls seeing the original BBC mini-series on which the Edge Of Darkness film is based and why he didn't see it again before making the new movie. He talks about working with director Martin Campbell, explains how he keeps his director mouth shut, reveals his plans for an upcoming Viking epic and recalls a scary story about his twins from their early childhood.
Mel Gibson in Edge Of Darkness
Mel Gibson in Edge Of Darkness
Warner Bros
What made you want to come back to acting? “It was just time. I just felt like doing it. It was my first love. I used to love doing it and if the tarnish is on it and the glow goes off of it you kind of walk away for a while and when it's time to come back you come back.”
It's great to see back on the screen again, after almost seven years of being behind the camera as a director. It's even better that you are in an action thriller like Edge Of Darkness. Have you gotten the acting bug back, and will you be popping pop up in the new Mad Max 4 film? Why did you stop acting in the first place? “Okay, well, I walked away from it after Signs because I just thought that I was a bit stale, and I thought that it kind of maybe wasn't ringing my bells. So I focused on directing and writing and producing and all that kind of stuff and then it was time to come back. I got the acting bug back because I thought all of a sudden that maybe after all these years that I might have something to offer again, and it coincided with a very good piece of material. This was a compelling story with good elements attached. I dug it and it gave me a chance to work with (director) Martin (Campbell) and (actor) Ray (Winstone) and Graham (King) and Bill Monahan on good stuff. If it wasn't this, it would've been something else but this was the best thing that I saw.”
Have you had a chance to talk to George Miller about appearing in Mad Max 4 in some way, shape or form? “I've talked to George, yeah. We have a good chin wag. We talk all the time anyway, George and I. So I'm abreast of that. I know that he's been trying to do this for years, the fourth installment. At one point I was involved and then it fell to bits and so now this and it's probably gone through a lot of changes. I can't wait to see it because everything he does I think is magic. I think there's a touch of genius, more than a touch of genius about George. Probably most of any good trick that I've ever learned I learned off of that guy and (director) Peter Weir.”
Have you ruled out even doing a cameo in Mad Max 4? “No. I honestly don't know?”
Once you got back in front of the cameras to act with Edge Of Darkness, did it all come back to you in an instant or did you feel a little rusty at first? “A little bit. I remember that Martin had to tell me to tone it down a couple of times because you forget levels and stuff. It's sort of dialing in those levels and so after that it was pretty natural. I mean you don't do something for thirty years and then just forget it. so it felt all right. It felt better, actually.”
Did you automatically feel the acting juices starting to flow? “Yeah, pretty much and it was something that a wise old...well, not so old and not so wise, told me once. 'Go away, dig a hole, do something else. Come back and then magically it'll rejuvenate your creative impulses and stuff.' He's right I think and I cannot qualify how exactly but I know that something happened. There's just nothing better than a vacation sometimes.”
This was a very physically demanding role. Do you work-out pretty regularly and did you really have to get into shape and do some brush-up training with guns for this film? “Well, the only thing that I did with that is that I ordered a chiropractor for the day after, because I knew how I was going to feel. (laughs) I knew that I was going to wake up like road kill and I did. You don't bounce back as quick as you used to and that guy is twenty-five, right, and he's taking it easy on you and it's not a pleasant experience. You don't pop back the way that you used to but that's okay so long as it still looks good.”
Mel Gibson in Edge Of Darkness
Mel Gibson in Edge Of Darkness
Warner Bros
Normally, do you work-out on a regular basis? “I don't workout much. I try and eat right and exercise a little. That sounds horrible. I quit smoking and so that's something in the right direction. There are no more fun things left. I just don't do anything fun anymore. But that's dying isn't it? You dye in stages, right? You let things go in pieces. (laughs]) It's more than halfway through, right, and probably for most of you out there, too. It's all over halfway. More than halfway. Not you. You're not quite there yet.”
Mel Gibson in Edge Of Darkness
Mel Gibson in Edge Of Darkness
Warner Bros
Did you watch the original BBC mini-series for Edge Of Darkness that came out in the early-'80s? “It's interesting because I watched it back in the '80's avidly, avidly. It was some of the best TV that I'd ever seen and British television at that time was great and we've all talked about that but I made a point to not watch it because I didn't want this to be a part of that. I just wanted to try and be truthful. But hey, if you're saying that my performance is anything like what Bob Peck did I'm flattered because I think he was amazing.”
What was the most challenging aspect in doing your character? “Well, challenging? Look, every time you go out there to do something you, wonder if you can do it. There's no assured success. There's no secret recipe for success. Every time you go out there you go out there with the possibility of great failure, so the whole business of putting your wares on display, whether you're a chef or an opera director or a painter or an actor or whatever, a filmmaker; whatever you happen to be you're throwing your stuff out there for other people. It's going to be judged. You're either going to be excoriated or praised or somewhere in between or both sometimes. It's all achallenge, the whole gig is a challenge.”
You've written, acted, produced and directed. What is left in your career that you would like to accomplish? “I'm working with Graham King on the Viking movie. The very first idea that I ever had about making a film, my first thought ever about being a filmmaker was when I was sixteen years old, and I wanted to make a Viking movie. I wanted to make it in Old Norse, which I was studying at that time. It's odd because at that age you're like, 'Well, that's just a stupidly ridiculous idea. How will I ever be a filmmaker. That's a dumb idea, just some kind of romantic pipe dream.' But that was the first big, epic, wacky idea that I ever had, to show the Vikings real. You get to see another country get fucked over by the Vikings.” (laughs)
Like the Natives in Apocalypto, will the Vikings be speaking in their native Old World language of Norse or Old English with subtitles for us to understand them? “I think it's going to be in English, an English that would've been spoken back then and Old Norse. I'm going to give it to you real, man.”
Is that really important to you? “Yeah. I want a Viking to scare you. I don't want a Viking to say, (in a heavy Brooklyn accent) 'I'm going to die with this sword in my hand.' (laughs) I don't want to hear that. It just pulls the rug out from under you. I want to see somebody who I've never seen before speaking low, guttural German who scares the living shit out of you, coming up to my house. What is that like? What would that have been like?”
You've talked about taking some time off and recharging your artistic batteries. During that time, did you ever thing about not coming back? “Yeah, of course. Probably further towards the beginning but then as time went on I was like, 'Eh, maybe I should I try that again.' You don't know and that's why I didn't make some big pronouncement like, 'I'm quitting. I'm retiring.' I didn't want to do that. I just thought that I'd back away for a while.”
Were you just tired and discouraged? “I was just tired and bored with it. I've done that a couple of times. I've just walked away and spent a year not doing it and do something else. I think it's a natural thing. As soon as something starts getting a little tedious and you want to spice it up again you kind of have to change it up.”
In Edge Of Darkness, you do a great job of playing a protective dad. Are you one in real life? “Yeah, I think I am a protective dad. I've never really been in situations, fortunately, where the kids have been in some sort of harrowing dangerous experience. I think I related one the other day. It's pretty basic. I remember that I went to the pharmacy to buy some formula for my newly born twins. They're now twenty-seven. I brought my twenty-one-month-old to the pharmacy with me because my wife was occupied with twins. It was in a place called Cudgy in Australia. There was a pharmacy right on the corner and then there was Cudgy Bay Road, a really busy road and we had a nurse from New Zealand at the time who used to help out during the day and go home at four. So it's that time, we're in the pharmacy and I'm buying formula and I take my eyes off of the child for a second and the next thing I look up and I say, 'What's the difference between this one and this,' and I look up and I see my child standing about maybe twenty five yards away on the edge of the curb and the nurse at a bus stop on the other side with traffic blowing in front of her. She's going out there to say hi to her. Well, okay, twenty five yards and not much time to get the kid. So, needless to say there's an old man with broken ribs. There was a lady with a footprint on her face. I completely wrecked the place to get through that place and get the kid. I broke everything and ran through things and lifted things and threw them out of the way that you weren't supposed to do to pluck her out of there before she got struck by car. So, yeah, you'll do anything for your kids, even kill somebody. But the poor woman, I had to apologize to a lot of people afterwards and they didn't understand. They get very angry of course because you've knocked an old lady over.” (laughs)
Mel Gibson & Bojana Novakac in Edge Of Darkness
Mel Gibson & Bojana Novakac in Edge Of Darkness
Warner Bros
Edge Of Darkness opens nationwide Friday, January 29, 2010. (Check local listings for showtimes & theaters)
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