A brave return
AFTER A VERY PUBLIC BREAKDOWN AND YEARS IN OBSCURITY, MEL GIBSON IS BACK TO WHAT HE DOES BEST, MAKING FILMS THAT CAPTIVATE AND ENTERTAIN A GLOBAL AUDIENCE
IT WAS 21 YEARS ago that Mel Gibson triumphantly walked into the Grand Havana in Beverly Hills, went straight to his locker and pulled out a box of Cohibas. The actor then began handing out Robusto’s to everyone in the room. The reason for his generosity was that Gibson had just won two Oscars for Braveheart - the epic story of Scottish hero William Wallace.
The film had won Best Picture and Gibson was named Best Director. That night he clutched both of the golden statues as he frequented the Grand Havana, a club the New York-born actor knew well. For he was a frequent visitor to many of America’s most exclusive cigar-friendly establishments. In fact Gibson’s name was etched in brass on humidor boxes at the Grand Havana Room and Club Macanudo in New York.
It was during the 1980s and ‘90s that Gibson established himself as one of the biggest movie stars in the world. Having first found fame by portraying Mad Max in the postapocalyptic action films, the Lethal Weapon franchise would then cement his place as a leading man.
Yet, Gibson had been thrust into the limelight and struggled at times with his new-found fame as he explained back in 2000. “The lawyers, the press, loss of anonymity, all the stuff that no one tells you about. It's like being a blind man walking into the woods. It takes a while to come to terms with that, this new world that you're having to exist in.”
Roles in Tequila Sunrise, Conspiracy Theory and Signs would keep Gibson in the public eye, but he remained private, rarely conducting interviews about his favourite cigars. But he was often pictured smoking a Cuban both on and off screen, especially in the film Maverick in which he played a cigar-smoking, gunslinger in the wild west.
But after a string of poorly received performances came a much-publicised breakdown that made the wrong-type of headlines across the world. While having his name on a movie poster had once guaranteed success, producers and directors across Hollywood blacklisted the actor and for nearly 10 years he was rarely seen on the big-screen.
Instead he chose to keep a low profile, only rarely being spotted at his favourite Havana Club where he could keep away from the prying eyes of the press.
However, Gibson is now enjoying a renaissance thanks to his first film as a director in a decade. Hacksaw Ridge - the true story of WWII American Army medic Desmond T. Doss who refused to pick up a weapon yet still received the Medal of Honour - was a huge hit across the globe.
The film received a 10-minute standing ovation at the Venice Film Festival and
“The lawyers, the press, loss of anonymity, all the stuff that no one tells you about. It's like being a bling man walking into the woods.”
has taken the top prize at several award ceremonies. Gibson was also nominated for Best Director at the Golden Globes and is finally being forgiven for his previous misdemeanours.
“I’ve done a lot of work on myself these last 10 years,” stated Gibson while publicising the film. “I’ve deliberately kept a low profile. I didn’t want to just do the celebrity rehab thing for two weeks, declare myself cured and then screw up again. I think the best way somebody can show they’re sorry is to fix themselves and that’s what I’ve been doing and I’m just happy to be here.”
“I think the best way someone can show they're sorry is to fix themselves and that's what I've been doing and I'm just happy to be here.”
Thanks to the critical acclaim Gibson is now working on new projects and is set to once again become a leading figure in Hollywood. His next project, The Professor and the Madman, sees him play a patient in an insane asylum and is already creating plenty of buzz. The 61-year-old is also planning to direct a follow up to his 2004 movie The Passion of the Christ.
But it is Hacksaw Ridge that will provide an opportunity for Gibson to return to the Oscars. It may also mean members of the Grand Havana Room may have a rare opportunity to share a Cohibo Robusto with the acclaimed director.