Hollywood’s Egyptian Theatre hosted a Mad Max trilogy screening in late January, and Mel Gibson was the guest of honor. Now there’s a full video of the maligned star’s 40-minute onstage conversation with the L.A. Times’ Geoff Boucher, and while there aren’t many moments addressing Gibson’s troublesome past few years, it’s interesting to view the conversation in light of TMZ-age Gibson — or nearly impossible not to. “So many of your films have themes of sacrifice, redemption and intense violence,” Boucher says to Gibson, a man serving three years probation and one year of counseling for a misdemeanor count of domestic violence, also the man behind Braveheart, The Passion of the Christ, and a forthcoming Viking epic.
“You have to temper something like that, otherwise people just run out screaming. Really. So you have to make it as bad as you possibly can and have them stay in their seats. That sounds sick, doesn’t it?” Gibson responds. “But there’s an art to that. It’s kind of like the art of torture. And of course the further we go, I think, the less I want to see. It’s actually starting to make me sick. But some is necessary, I think. I mean, it’s part of life.”
Gibson is never downright glum in the interview, but he’s certainly not joyous. His contributions to the talk are pause-filled and sober- if not somber-voiced. There’s no trace of celebrity showiness; despite the assemblage of Mad Max fanatics, Gibson isn’t doing anything you could call “working the room.”
“How down did you get?” Boucher asks in the frankest moment unrelated to the specificities of filming Mad Max, the one direct attempt at discussing the time world records were likely broken for simultaneous instances of the phrase “Mel Gibson racist rant.”
“Oh, everybody gets ups and downs, don’t they? Yeah? Yeah,” says Gibson with a trace of Lethal Weapon manic. “Yeah, but I managed to sort of rise above in the end. I think everybody has to; it’s either sink or swim. Or you just don’t wake up one morning. But I kept waking up, so I figured, ‘what the fuck, I might as well enjoy it.’”