Remember Mel Gibson? He was a giant movie star who, ten years ago, made a very popular movie about Jesus. In the years since, he has become known more for saying some pretty anti-Semitic, homophobic, and misogynist stuff than for making movies, and everyone in the industry seems to have universally agreed to stop working with him. So, to commemorate The Passion of the Christ’s ten-year anniversary, Deadline had former Gibson-hating journalist and now Gibson friend Allison Hope Weiner make the case for his comeback.
Weiner tells the interesting story of how she went from journalist profiling Gibson to having a close relationship with him. She doesn’t disregard the things he said, but offers a portrait of a remorseful man struggling with his alcoholism. Because of Weiner’s own religious background, she focuses a lot of the piece on Gibson trying to make amends with offended Jews — including her own family.
“The issues with my own family were more challenging. Gibson asked to meet them at my son’s bar mitzvah celebration. Imagine the scene: A room filled with Jews. In walks the person who, in their minds, might be the most notorious anti-Semite in America. Gibson attended alone and I can only imagine what was going through his head when he walked into the party.
Before the evening was over, he was chatting with many of my relatives, who saw a funny, kind, charming guy and not the demon they’d read about. Gutsier still, he attended our Yom Kippur break fast dinner. Anyone who has attended such a gathering knows there is nothing more imposing than making friends in a room full of Jews who haven’t eaten in 24 hours.”
She also says that Gibson has personally apologized to the Jewish cop he verbally attacked, “quietly donated millions to charitable Jewish causes,” and met with a “wide variety” of Jewish leaders, “[learning] much about the Jewish religion, befriending a number of Rabbis and attending his share of Shabbat dinners, Passover Seders and Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur dinners.”
Weiner ends the story with a plea for Hollywood to reconsider Gibson. “He wasn’t the bad person I thought he was back when I first wrote about him, and I’m telling you, he is now not the person you think he is.” Adding, “As one A-list star told me recently, ‘Mel has spent enough time in the penalty box.’”