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Posted at 11:32 AM ET, 05/ 4/2009

Mel Gibson, from A-Lister to Train Wreck in Three Short Years

By Liz Kelly

Mel Gibson and girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva make their public debut at last week's 'X-Men Origins: Wolverine' premiere. (Getty Images)
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Do you think Mel has redeemed himself since the DUI? Between that, the weird "Passion" publicity (and uber-Catholicism), and now the divorce stuff, I think his star is quite tarnished. -- From last week's Celebritology Live submissions

When Mel Gibson was arrested in 2006 for driving drunk along California's Pacific Coast Highway, he wasn't just another celebrity DUI. In one evening Gibson managed to trash a 30-year career when we found out that not only did he have a problem with alcohol, but with women and Jews.

Gibson had been an unquestionable A-lister -- an actor turned director who seemed to have a talent for hitting the sweet spot of big appealing themes and box office bait. He flew high and fell far. Sure, the red hot outrage had mellowed in the intervening years and Gibson had even become something of a mentor for a teetering Britney Spears. But his chances for regaining not only his lost prestige, but his earning power, were slimmish -- despite his upcoming return to the role of leading man in "Edge of Darkness."

And now we've had another peek behind the curtain of his complicated off-screen life as wife of 29 years and mother of Gibson's seven children, Robyn, filed for divorce. As if that wasn't enough of a hit for his image, Gibson defiantly squired his new (and possibly pregnant) girlfriend -- Oksana Grigorieva -- to the very public "Wolverine" premiere.

For celebrities, redemption is a relatively simple equation best exemplified by a little game of word association. If you ask 10 people to say the first word that pops into their head when you say "Mel Gibson," perhaps one will come up with "Mad Max" or "Braveheart." But the preponderance will go with what is fresher in our memories: "DUI," "Divorce," or even "Sugar****." You see my point. Gibson's life has overshadowed his career. It's a distraction.

In the mind of the consumer, he is now filed with the group with which he shares the most attributes: train wrecks -- Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, David Hasselhoff, Andy Dick. And no matter how talented the man may be, Hollywood won't continue to place bets on an actor or a director who has done so much to alienate his peers and his audience.

Agree? Disagree? Let's continue the conversation below...

By Liz Kelly  | May 4, 2009; 11:32 AM ET
Categories:  Mel Gibson  
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I do agree. Because knowing what you know about an actor also changes how you view their work. One looks for telltale signs of their "krazarness" in their performance and that can be distracting. Too bad. But really, in life we are all judged that way. It is hard to come back from big fall from grace in the "real world" as well.

Posted by: hodie | May 4, 2009 11:56 AM | Report abuse

For me, Mel has fallen into the same category as Tom Cruise.

He was once mouth-watering hot, seemed like a good guy, the guy every man wanted to be and every woman wanted to be with. Both were at the top of kitchen passes everywhere.

Now, both, while still cute enough to make us stop and look, have been tarnished by their bat-guano crazy personalities. I watch their old movies and say to myself "Remember when they were great and 'normal.'" (as normal as a celebrity can be) I watch their new movies and can't get the image of thetanic couch jumping or anti-semitic drunken rants out of my head.

I guess Joaquin Phoenix is in that same boat, but I'm still in the camp that this has just been one big publicity stunt.

But as for Cruise and Gibson, I watch their movies like I watch a Rat Pack flick, nostalgic for the past, but interested in what the upandcoming repalcements have to offer.

Posted by: eet7e | May 4, 2009 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Let's put it this way. My wife and I plan to never see a Tom Cruise movie again, no matter how good he is in it. I mean, why financially support a jerk? Ditto for Gibson.

Posted by: geno | May 4, 2009 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Agreed. He lost me at Sugart-ts. Same way Kramer lost me with his rant at the comedy club. And T. Cruise lost me at "glib". Although for T. Cruise, it was more of his intense burning insanity while trying to convince Matt Lauer that the moon is blue. For some reason I can forgive Jude Law and Mark Wahlberg for just about anything. But Martin Riggs is now a tarnished memory. What a dumb-ss for lousing up a perfectly good career.

Posted by: avidwpreader | May 4, 2009 12:08 PM | Report abuse

mel gibson has the values one has come to expect from a christian, dosn't he?

Posted by: newagent99 | May 4, 2009 12:09 PM | Report abuse

I kinda never got the point of why Mel was so famous in the first place. He looked good in "The Year of Living Dangerously," he turned on the wacky in the "Lethal Weapon" movies, then used his money and clout to make religious movies. Good for him following his beliefs and all, but whatever. Yet I gotta disagree with this:

"In the mind of the consumer, he is now filed with the group with which he shares the most attributes: train wrecks -- Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, David Hasselhoff, Andy Dick."

Now now. Mel Gibson has an Oscar. That should at least elevate him a little higher than Andy Dick (not much, maybe, but a little). Yet another once-way-famous actor doing the wife-ditching, younger-girlfriend-getting midlife-crisis-thing (cf. T. Cruise, H. Ford). They're falling like flies. Is Tom Hanks next?

Posted by: td_in_baltimore | May 4, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Um..isn't he a staunch Catholic? How's the divorce going to work? And he has like 5 kids. So annulment isn't really option. Let's see if the church gives him an annulment. And let's see if the church gives him an annulment only after he ponies up a huge donation.

Posted by: zonkerscm | May 4, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

If you ask 10 people to say the first word that pops into their head when you say "Mel Gibson," perhaps one will come up with "Mad Max" or "Braveheart."

Gee, the first thing that comes into my head when you say "Mel Gibson" is "Insufferable Hypocrite!"

Posted by: cosmiccanine | May 4, 2009 12:23 PM | Report abuse

"So in 2003 the actor decided to help change things back to the way they were, building a chapel in Malibu, Calif. – The Church of the Holy Family. Tucked away in the tree-covered mountains of Agoura Hills, 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles, the rustic church, unaffiliated with the Roman Catholic archdiocese, has a foot-tall crucifix on the altar and the priest keeps his back to the parishioners as he performs mass every morning entirely in Latin. In church, women must wear head coverings." - No need for a big donation or an annulment. The man has his OWN church.

Posted by: Vienna8425 | May 4, 2009 1:08 PM | Report abuse

I take the annulment comment back. Apparently he would still need to get one. On top of it all his wife is not Catholic even though she helped build the church and worships their with their children.

Posted by: Vienna8425 | May 4, 2009 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Mel is an insufferable idiot, but i have to admit (with some chagrin) that I did like the movie he directed/produced--Apacolypto--a couple of years ago. Maybe he can make a go of it behind the camera? As for his no doubt long suffering wife, she's probably ready to be rid of his randy, high falutin', christian-at-the-foot-of-the-cross arse once and for all.

Posted by: caroleg1 | May 4, 2009 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Were they married in a "real" Catholic church? I'd guess not since wifey isn't Catholic. If not then they won't need an anullment since in the eyes of the "real" Catholic church, they ain't married if they weren't married in "THE" church.

Anyhoo, I agree with everyone on the Mel/Tom C. comparisons, once upon a time, they were forces to be reckoned with at the box office, but now, they're just punchlines for Leno, Letterman & Conan & the myriad of other late nite talk show hosts.

I'd also toss Woody Allen into the mix. Once upon a time he made funny movies & then he married his stepdaughter & out went the funny & talent & ability to be taken seriously.

Posted by: wadejg | May 4, 2009 1:21 PM | Report abuse

"Success is the best deodorant" Elizabeth Taylor

Posted by: jezebel3 | May 4, 2009 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Hollywood is a "what have you done for me lately?" kind of town, no doubt about it. Once Gibson gets that Oscar worthy role or directs that summer blockbuster, all will be forgiven. This is how are star system works, we want people to come back after being toppled down the hill a bit - and always appreciate those that do. One day you're blacklisted, be it your own fault or the shameful behavior of industry insiders, and the next you have a hit show, a huge movie, that huge chart topper or maybe even that funny self deprecating TV commercial which reminds us all who you are, and why you're there and not us untalented ones of the common folk.

In Gibson's case he has the production studio and resources to climb out of the hole without relying on the help of anyone else, and even the distributors know Gibson = box office. It's just a matter of time until we're all back on the bandwagon. Well, of course, maybe not all of us - but all you need is one hit in Hollyweird. Just one.

Posted by: JimGoldbloom1 | May 4, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

If he gets a divorce, his marriage will be legally over in the eyes of the state. However, he will still be married in the eyes of the Roman Catholic Church (if in fact he and Mrs. Gibson were originally married in the church) and would have to get an annullment if he wanted to marry someone else in the RC Church. If he never receives an annullment, he can still get married in a civil ceremony (or in another type of religious ceremony for that matter.) BTW, having children within a marriage does not preclude you from getting an annullment. I suppose starting your own church makes this kind of thing much simpler!

Posted by: JinNJ | May 4, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

The man has his OWN church.

Hey, it worked for Henry VIII, so why not for Mel?

Also, I can't get over Mel's refusal to denounce his father's Holocaust-denying. So, like geno above, I vote with my pocketbook at the box office.

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | May 4, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse

I don't understand. I thought Mel was a member of the Church of the FSM. Didn't he make that movie about the Passion of the Flying Spaghetti Monster? See the link below:

Mel needs to be touched by his noodly appendages. Ramen.

Posted by: GroovisMaximus61 | May 4, 2009 1:46 PM | Report abuse

I don't really think his religion should be discussed. Lots of people are uber this and that and you can't blame any religion for how someone acts.

Free will and all that, you know?

As far as his "star" I was willing to forgive his druken rants. Drunks tend to do those things and should seek help and forgiveness from the people they hurt.

However he looks perfectly sober now on the arm of his girlfriend. I guess the only thing I wonder is why his wife stayed with him so long?

Posted by: supersonic1 | May 4, 2009 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Nosy - I'd say he probably believes his fathers nonsense. I think lots of stars hide their kookiness when they are building their career then let it all go once they are a "star". I agree with "vote with your pocketbook at the box office" route.

Posted by: Vienna8425 | May 4, 2009 2:08 PM | Report abuse

I don't really think his religion should be discussed. Lots of people are uber this and that and you can't blame any religion for how someone acts.

Posted by: supersonic1 | May 4, 2009 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Religion of celeb hypocrites is off-limits for snark???

Posted by: jezebel3 | May 4, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Religion of celeb hypocrites is off-limits for snark???

I'd guess it depends on whether the celeb's a public hypocrite or proselytizer (yes in both cases), or keeps his or her religious beliefs more or less (not necessarily, unless the hypocrisy rises to an untenable level).

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | May 4, 2009 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Unlike, say, Harrison Ford, Mel's career in front of the camera has been more tough-guy roles (see Bruce Willis) and consequently age is a real negative factor for his career (how many times do we have to hear "I'm getting too old for this (danecook)". He's still a marketable name behind the camera despite drunken rants and marital situation. But it's not like studios are pelting him with scripts to direct--he generates his own projects and can afford to self-finance and distribute if he wishes and/or a studio refuses to finance (which is how Passion of the Christ came about and paid off big for Mel). So basically, he's pretty much immune to public opinion at this point except for acting roles, which it seems to me no one is pelting him with scripts for either. But, as I said, it's probably as much to do with his age and the kind of roles he's known for as anything else.

Posted by: sorcerers_cat | May 4, 2009 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Missing word alert:

keeps his or her religious beliefs more or less private...

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | May 4, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

We should infer that you've not pitched your script to Mel?

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | May 4, 2009 2:51 PM | Report abuse

I agree Liz. Mel is pretty much Sugar****Guy, Cruise is Mr. I-Peddle-Lethal-Cults (and assist in banning books if they want me to), and Russell Crowe's catch-phrase is, "I wonder how that bellhop would look with a telephone attached to his head?"

The drill pretty much runs like this...if you've been called out by SOUTH PARK, it's going to cost you, and it'll be tough coming back. Mainly because I think SP calls it right most of the time.

I'm not suggesting Britney Spears doesn't deserve help. But the fact that Gibson elected himself to do it, speaks volumes about how far down he has fallen. On the other hand it doesn't surprise me a whit that Spears was enlisting the help of an alcoholic bigot for emotional/spiritual guidance. Didn't she ask TomKat for the same thing when she queried about Scientology? The poor woman seems terminally lost.

Posted by: puck2 | May 4, 2009 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Incisive analysis, Puck!

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | May 4, 2009 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Breaking: NBC unveils fall sked, decision on 'Chuck' delayed:'Chuck'+delayed

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | May 4, 2009 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Hey Nosy--No, I've never tried to get a script to Mel, although years ago I wrote a treatment for a Lethal Weapon movie that was, if I say so myself, really good (certainly better than the piece of dreck they made instead!) Now? I can't think of a character I'd like him to play in any of my scripts. But again, I don't have many characters his age range in the ones I'm pitching now. Funny, now that I think of it, I tend to always throw in an older female character or two but rarely older men. Hmmph.

Posted by: sorcerers_cat | May 4, 2009 4:25 PM | Report abuse

If Christianity weren't considered a religion, it would be considered a mental illness. Feel free to substitute any other religion for Christianity in the preceeding sentence.

Posted by: kabuki3 | May 4, 2009 4:34 PM | Report abuse

That horrific Passion movie of his was the turning point for me, made me realize this man is a sick fascist SOB. I did like some of his early movies but can't watch this man anymore. AT ALL.

Posted by: catherine3 | May 4, 2009 4:43 PM | Report abuse

I know I'm in the minority here, but I thought Braveheart was the start of that slippery slope....

Posted by: memphis1 | May 4, 2009 4:58 PM | Report abuse

I thought that only desperate men went after Russian mail-order brides.


Speaking of Russian, Byoolin may like to take a look at this quick guide to successful pronunciation of the names of certain Russian hockey players. And there are a couple of good double entendre entries for everyone.

Posted by: sasquatchbigfoot | May 4, 2009 5:08 PM | Report abuse

memphis, I'm with you on Braveheart being the start of Mel's slippage. Looked like a vanity role to me as he was already too old to play the part.

Posted by: hodie | May 4, 2009 5:11 PM | Report abuse

The thing about Braveheart for me is looking back now, in light of the movies he's directed since, how he has a morbid fascination with torture. I've never seen the Passion of the Christ not only because I'm utterly uninterested in the subject matter but because I heard it was torture porn right up there on a par with a "Saw" movie. And that danecook absolutely grosses me out. Not entirely sure what it tells us about Mel, but it can't be good.

Posted by: sorcerers_cat | May 4, 2009 5:31 PM | Report abuse

He started losing me with the Lethal Weapon series, but he completely lost me at Hamlet. Do anything you want to Jesus Christ, just don't mess with the Bard if you're trying to play it straight. It was like a Reader's Digest/Cliff Notes version of Hamlet. All that was missing was a chase scene.

Posted by: mdreader01 | May 4, 2009 5:35 PM | Report abuse

a Reader's Digest/Cliff Notes version of Hamlet. All that was missing was a chase scene.


Posted by: Nosy_Parker | May 4, 2009 6:28 PM | Report abuse

Religion of celeb hypocrites is off-limits for snark???

Well, if it is not off limits then let's keep it fair, you know he's an uber Jew or Muslim. Oh what the hell, so and so is an uber Atheist.

Posted by: supersonic1 | May 4, 2009 10:53 PM | Report abuse

He lost me at the anti-semitism. I don't care how drunk I or any of my friends ever got there is no way a drunken rant would ever devolve into racism. You don't say such things when you're drunk unless you believe them in sober life. So Mel is scum.

I guess in his church, he is free to divorce his wife and take up with his new preggo girlfriend as long as she covers her head in church! Because not too would be *gasp* sinful!

Posted by: msame | May 5, 2009 7:56 AM | Report abuse

As long he "follows' the 12 steps with honesty,he is a winner.


Posted by: claudelavoie57 | May 5, 2009 8:27 AM | Report abuse

At least we'll always have Mad Max. *sigh.

Posted by: jelo97 | May 5, 2009 8:50 AM | Report abuse

And, we'll always have Gallipoli.

Posted by: pras40 | May 5, 2009 12:10 PM | Report abuse

People should stop misrepresenting their personal opinion that MG is a bigot and/or a trouble maker as rational facts. These are wrongful and prejudiced assumptions. First of all, you would have to believe that people are never unfair, or that drunk people are never unfair, to consider the type of incident that took place in 2006 proof that a person is a bigot, and that would be a naive misrepresentation of reality indeed. Also, it was a once in a lifetime event that should not be misrepresented as the opposite, a characteristic trait, and yet it often is. When people have to twist a point to make a point not only do they not have a point, they have cast doubt on their motives and/or ability to reason in a balanced and fair way. And if misbehaving at one point in our life, in an extreme and unusual set of circumstances, would make us hypocritical, untrustworthy human beings, not a lot of us could honestly claim to be decent and respectable anymore - including most of those attacking MG. Is it an unlikely scenario that MG would have taken a cheap shot under the given circumstances at the time? No, it is very likely. Who would not feel attacked and bullied if ever arrested, it is just an instinctive and natural reaction to having your freedom taken away – whether the reason is just or not. And when are we most likely as human beings to be tempted to take a cheap shot; when we feel bullied ourselves. You would have to lack insight into the human psyche to not acknowledge this.
More and more people, fans and non-fans alike, are becoming increasingly alarmed by the amount of hatred coming this man's way. Contrary to MG himself, who misbehaved only once and apologized for it later, these people go on and on attacking him and show no remorse at all. Many even seem to gloat. The time that we are willing to take these continual attacks seriously is over, it is beginning to look a lot like bigotry and hatred itself. Whether MG is a bigot or not remains to be seen, one thing is clear however, many of those attacking him are at least themselves infected with the disease they accuse him of having: a hateful attitude with no respect for or interest in balancing emotions and facts (or even gathering them indiscriminately before judging).
As for sugar ****, according to MG that comment was wrongly attributed to him. The police officer called his female colleague that name, it was reported as if MG had said it. To leave that out and attribute the remark to MG despite it, equals presenting a biased, misleading picture.
As for divorce. MG never refused to be friends with people who are divorced, he never dropped friends because of a divorce. That is not a fact that should be dismissed as somehow irrelevant. It matters that in situations like that in reality he does not put himself above others at all.

Posted by: 0987 | May 7, 2009 8:19 AM | Report abuse

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