- Gibson, Mel
▪ 2005Temporarily setting aside his career as one of the world's best-known action heroes, American-born Australian actor, director, and producer Mel Gibson fulfilled a personal mission by bringing to the screen The Passion of the Christ, one of the most popular motion pictures of 2004. At its opening on Ash Wednesday (February 25), the film took in $23.6 million, the sixth highest opening-day total in motion picture history. By midsummer The Passion ranked among the 10 top-grossing films of all time. Based primarily on the biblical Gospels and with a dialogue in Aramaic and Latin (with English subtitles), Gibson's pet project stirred controversy long before it arrived in theatres. Religious groups and editorialists assailed the film as anti-Semitic, and many were appalled by its violence and skeptical of its historical accuracy. Some critics praised Gibson's storytelling and artistic vision, however, and the film did find some support among Jews. Gibson denied the charges of anti-Semitism, saying the film was intended “to inspire, not offend.” Adding to the furor was a report in December 2003 that Pope John Paul II had endorsed the film, which was closely followed by the Vatican's denial that the pope had expressed an opinion about it.Mel Columcille Gerard Gibson was born on Jan. 3, 1956, in Peekskill, N.Y. His father, a railroad worker, later became known for his contentious writings on religion. His mother was an Australian opera singer. The family moved to Australia when Gibson was 12 years old. From 1974 to 1977 he studied at the National Institute of Dramatic Art in Sydney. He landed the leading roles in the futuristic action film Mad Max (1979) and in the romance Tim (1979), with the latter earning Gibson the Australian Film Institute's award for best actor. He won the award again in 1981 for his performance in the war drama Gallipoli. Mad Max 2 (1981), released in the United States as The Road Warrior (1982), brought Gibson international stardom. He established himself as a top box-office draw in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985) and the action-packed Lethal Weapon series, as well as more serious fare, including The Year of Living Dangerously (1982), Hamlet (1990), and Signs (2002). Gibson also starred in a string of romantic comedies. In 1993 he made his directorial debut with The Man Without a Face. He next directed the epic Braveheart (1995), in which he also starred as the Scottish national hero Sir William Wallace. The film won five Academy Awards, including best picture and best director. A Harris Poll ranked Gibson among the five most popular movie stars in the United States every year since 1993, the year the poll began, and in 2004 the American business magazine Forbes named him the most powerful celebrity in the world.Janet Moredock
* * *in full Mel Columcille Gerard Gibsonborn Jan. 3, 1956, Peekskill, N.Y., U.S.American-born Australian actor, who became an international star with a series of action-adventure films in the 1980s and later earned acclaim as a director and producer.When he was 12 years old, Gibson's family moved to Australia. In 1974 he enrolled in the National Institute of Dramatic Art in Sydney, and while at school he made his film debut playing a surfer in Summer City (1977). After graduating in 1977, he joined the State Theatre Company of South Australia. Two years later he starred as a renegade cop seeking revenge in the futuristic action film Mad Max (1979). His portrayal of a mentally disabled handyman in the romance Tim (1979) earned Gibson the Australian Film Institute's award for best actor. He won the award again in 1981 for his performance in the war drama Gallipoli.With the release of Mad Max 2 (1981; U.S. title The Road Warrior ), Gibson became an international star. He subsequently established himself as a top box office draw with Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985) and the action-packed Lethal Weapon series. In addition, he earned critical praise for more-serious fare, including The Year of Living Dangerously (1982) and Hamlet (1990), the first film made by his production company, ICON Productions. In 1993 he made his directorial debut with The Man Without a Face, in which he also starred. Gibson next directed the epic Braveheart (1995), in which he portrayed the Scottish national hero Sir William Wallace (Wallace, Sir William). The film won five Academy Awards, including best picture and best director.After a string of successful films—including Ransom (1996) and Signs (2002)—Gibson returned to directing with The Passion of the Christ (2004), an account of the last 12 hours of Jesus Christ's life that was based primarily on the biblical Gospels, with dialogue in Aramaic and Latin (with English subtitles). Although The Passion was a box office success, among the top-grossing movies of all time, some critics charged that the film was anti-Semitic, gratuitously violent, and historically inaccurate. In 2006 Apocalypto was released. Directed by Gibson, the violent film was set during the collapse of the Mayan empire and featured dialogue in Mayan (with English subtitles).
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