I thought I should start my blogging about Mel Gibson with his biography (I found it here). I think you will love it because it shows how much he suffered before he became this famous actor. I really admire his persistence and hard work.
Mel Gibson Biography is very long so, I had to cut it into 4 parts. Please read it. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did.
Born: 3 January 1956
Where: Peekskill, New York, USA
Awards: Won 2 Oscars, 1 Golden Globe
Height: 5′ 11″
Way before Russell, Cate and Hugh Jackman, even before Geoffrey Rush and Sam Neill, the Antipodes could boast of a mega-star in the Hollywood firmament. One of the brightest, in fact. Mel Gibson was without doubt one of the biggest action heroes of the Eighties and Nineties. Furthermore, when he decided to produce, direct and star in his own action movie, Braveheart, he even snapped up a couple of Oscars – a very, very rare occurrence in the genre. Following this with his self-financed mega-hit The Passion Of The Christ and the epic Apocalypto, he even looked set to out-do Clint Eastwood and become the most successful actor-turned-director of modern times.
Yet Mel Columcille Gerard Gibson isn’t, strictly speaking, Australian at all. He was born on the 3rd of January, 1956, in Peekskill, New York, the sixth of eleven children. His father, Hutton, was a brakeman for New York Central Railroad and, considering New York City no place to raise children, moved the family north to Croton-on-Hudson, then on to nearby Verplanck Point and, by 1961, on to a farmhouse at Mount Vision. Times were hard and Hutton figured he’d run the farm and do his rail job too. So he spent weekdays in New York City while the family (isolated by mother Anne’s inability to drive) stuck out on the farm. It was tough, but a great place to be a kid.
In 1964, disaster struck when Hutton suffered a serious work accident and lost his job. The Gibsons were forced to move into cheap rented accommodation, with the older children having to take jobs, while Hutton entered into a compensation battle with the company. It would take three years to work out. When it did, though, it worked out well. Hutton was a strict and traditional Catholic – having at one point studied for the priesthood – and did not really approve of the cultural changes in the Sixties, regarding the hippies’ penchant for mind-expansion and promiscuity as a sad sign of moral decline. Consequently, when he won $145,000 compensation, and a further $21,000 from the Jeopardy! gameshow (very bright, the Gibsons), he decided to take the family to Australia, Anne’s homeland (her mother had been an opera singer who’d emigrated to the States).
It’s been said that the Gibsons moved to escape the draft for Vietnam. Not true. Hutton had served in WW2 and truly despised war, but his sons could still have been drafted from Australia. Indeed, Mel’s eldest brother WAS drafted, only to fail the initial tests. Also, Anne had an extended family there which would surely help as Hutton recovered from the accident.
So, off they went, via Ireland, Scotland, England and Rome, where the kids were shown their Celtic heritage (Mel’s the name of an Irish saint – and it’s NOT Melvin) and spent time at the Vatican. They arrived in Australia in November of 1968 and settled in a suburb north of Sydney. Mel was sent to St Leo’s College, run by the Christian Brothers, where he was picked on mercilessly for his accent. Rebelling against the repressive regime, he got “whacked around for smoking, fighting, not following their stupid rules”. Eventually, Hutton pulled him out and sent him to a state school – Asquith High – where he became a proper Aussie bloke, drinking , brawling and the rest. He did date a little, but usually with his mates along, being extremely shy.
After school, he thought of the priesthood, then journalism, but he had no genuine vocation, ending up employed at an orange juice bottling plant in Sydney. His sister Sheila filled in an application form for him to join the National Institute of Dramatic Arts, at the University of New South Wales. Having tested the water (and some adventure) by taking a course at the New Zealand Drama School in Wellington, Mel went along to NIDA and, somehow, was accepted.
It wasn’t easy to begin with. Mel didn’t take it seriously and so suffered the disapproval of students who did. He grew his hair and a beard and did all those Seventies things that have very little to do with disciplined work. He moved out of his parents’ home to share a flat with three other guys. You can imagine.
But, after a while, he began to make an effort, conquering the terrible stage fright that had seen him have to sit down during his first ever performance. Playing Romeo alongside fellow student Judy Davis, he was a real success. With his hair and beard removed, people began to take notice of his extraordinary good looks. He shared a flat with Geoffrey Rush and began to exhibit some of Rush’s flair and enthusiasm for theatre.
At the end of 1976, Mel and his student-buddy Steve Bisley (Bisley would appear, as Goose, in Mel’s breakthrough hit Mad Max) met producer Phil Avalon and found themselves cast in the lightweight surfer movie Summer City. They were paid the union minimum of $400 but it was experience, and fun. Mel enjoyed a relationship with co-star Deborah Foreman who, once it was over, was reported to have attempted suicide at a boozy party.
The movie was a success in one respect. Mel was taken on by agent Bill Shannahan, who scored him a part in The Sullivans. This was good exposure, but Mel hated TV work, believing time constraints meant little genuinely good work was done. To learn his craft, he joined the South Australia Theatre Company and toured with Waiting For Godot. When renting a room in Adelaide, he entered the kitchen one day to find a pretty young woman, a dental assistant named Robyn Moore, making breakfast. She had a boyfriend then but, by June of 1980 she and Mel would be married, now having seven children.
Now Shannahan really came good. He got Mel an audition for the producer/director George Miller, then casting for a futuristic feast of ultraviolence called Mad Max. The night before, Mel got drunk at a party (as he often did) and became involved in a fight with three other men. They pounded him good and proper, and he showed up at the audition with stitches in his head, his nose all over the place and his jaw out of line. Incredibly, he was the perfect Max Rockatansky – possibly the most severely battered hero in screen history.
The filming was hard. With a budget of just a few hundred thousand, the cast and crew all lived in the same house, and all helped out moving equipment. And it came off. Mel shone as a cop whose wife and kid are run down and killed by a fearsome motor-gang led by The Toecutter. This, as the title suggests, makes him mad, and he goes after them, giving his final victim the choice of either dying in an inferno or cutting his own foot off. Boosted by word-of-mouth rumours that it was exceptionally brutal – remember, this was Video Nasty time, when many films were benefiting from being banned – Mad Max was a sensation, taking over $100 million.
Unfazed, Mel continued his stage education, appearing in Oedipus Rex and Henry IV. Always keen to expand his repertoire, he also starred in Tim, written by Colleen McCullough. Here he played a labourer of below-average intelligence who’s befriended by older woman Piper Laurie. Choosing to highlight his character’s innocence, rather than his disability, Gibson was charming and convincing, and won the Best Actor Award from the Australian Film Institute.
Wait for more about . . . Mel Gibson