Actor and Oscar-winning director Mel Gibson spoke exclusively with “The Ingraham Angle” on Tuesday, celebrating the 25th anniversary of his acclaimed film “Braveheart,” his newest project, “Fatman” — and commenting on how the coronavirus has affected Hollywood.
Gibson, who stars as “Chris Cringle” in the fantasy-thriller “Fatman,” told substitute host Raymond Arroyo that his character in the 2020 film “kind of revealed the humanity of who Santa Claus might be.”
“He was just a regular guy who lost his faith in humanity a little bit, and sort of was a little down and depressed about perhaps the cynicism around the world — And it was dragging him under,” he said.
“Basically, it does kind of have a Western format, you know? It’s like watching ‘High Noon’ or something,” he said after Arroyo described it as a portmanteau: “Miracle at the O.K. Corral.”
Pivoting to his other classics, Gibson said he was impressed by how well 1995’s “Braveheart” has held up over time, and that it still has had public screenings even decades later — prior to theater shutdowns because of the virus.
The film, which follows Scottish revolutionary Willliam Wallace in his revolt against the English, is considered one of the Peekskill, N.Y., native’s most iconic films — from both a director and actor standpoint. (Gibson’s family moved to Australia when he was a child.)
The filmmaker remarked that he indeed recalls the long days doing double-duty on set to put together the movie. That effort, however, scored him two Oscars — for best picture and best director.
“I was looking at other people [to play Wallace] but nobody trusted me as a director so I had to jump in there myself — that’s partially true,” he said. “It just came to the point where I just had to jump in myself and Paramount and Fox, who were financing the film said ‘well, that make sense. We want you to be in it’.”
Gibson said “Braveheart” likely stands the test of time because of the reverence in America for the idea of freedom.
“It’s talking about things that we all prize and the lengths we will go to to preserve those for ourselves and for our families,” Gibson said. “And I think themes like that in a country like the United States is really important.”
One of Gibson’s other celebrated films, 2000’s “The Patriot,” also continues to be held in high esteem decades later. In that film, he played South Carolina revolutionary Benjamin Martin — who is said to be based in part on a mix of real-life patriots like Francis “Swamp Fox” Marion and Maj. Gen. Nathanael Greene.
Gibson told Arroyo that in addition to a sequel to another one of his highly acclaimed films, “Passion of the Christ” — which he directed and in which Jim Caviezel starred as Jesus Christ — there may also be a “Lethal Weapon 5” in the works.
The buddy-cop tetralogy co-starring Danny Glover and Joe Pesci was directed by Richard Donner, who Gibson said is interested in “jump[ing] back on the horse again.”
With the coronavirus pandemic shuttering theaters and causing other rippling effects in Hollywood, Gibson remarked that a Texas film “exhibitor” he knows has lost about $48 million in one month during the pandemic.
“That’s pretty hefty,” he said. “So [the pandemic] is going to change a lot in this biz. You’ve seen where Warner [Brothers] has taken their whole slate and moved it over to HBO Max.”
“A lot of stuff is streaming that wasn’t conceived that way.”
In closing the interview, Arroyo asked Gibson about politics, noting he rarely weighs in on partisan issues or candidates.
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The actor said it is a deliberate choice of his not to take one side or the other in public.
“Who the hell cares what I think? I’m not an expert — what am I qualified to talk about?” Gibson remarked.
“It’s alright. It allows you a sense of anonymity so that in your performance you can come out and just be anything; you’re not already carrying a lot of baggage. It’s partially intentional.”
In a 2016 interview with “Extra,” when Gibson was asked about the race between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, he remarked simply: “How is it going to play out? — One of them is going to win.”