If Mad Max Could Speak, What Would He Tell Mel?

Can Gibson's Heroic Characters Point Him in the Right Direction?


Aug. 1, 2006 —  To get himself out of this mess, Mel Gibson needs the courage of "Braveheart," the guile of "Mad Max," and the fortitude to unload that "Lethal Weapon" that is his mouth after a few too many.

The 50-year-old Oscar-winning director and actor has apologized for his "despicable behavior" and for making anti-Semitic remarks when police arrested him Friday on suspicion of driving under the influence. He's admitted he has a drinking problem and has gone into rehab.

But if Gibson hopes to continue as a force in show business, his problems have only begun.

Already, powerhouse agent Ari Emmanuel — the man who inspired Jeremy Piven's character in "Entourage" — has called on Hollywood to shun him, "even if it means a sacrifice to their bottom line." Barbara Walters similarly told her audience on "The View" that "I don't think I want to see any more Mel Gibson movies."

Still, you can't debate Mel Gibson's future without considering the indelible mark he's made over the past quarter of a century as one of Hollywood's most bankable stars. Perhaps no actor since Charlton Heston has played so many iconic characters.

Gibson's pantheon of heroes has battled Redcoats ("The Patriot"), drug dealers ("Lethal Weapon") and demented motorcycle gangs from the future ("Mad Max"). They fear not the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune ("Hamlet"), and keep fighting even with their enemies' arrows poking though their chest ("Braveheart").

As pundit after pundit weighs in on what Gibson might do to redeem himself, here's a look at how some of Gibson's most famous characters dealt with all manner of stress and adversity.

Mad Max (1979): Gibson's current circus of controversy might very well resemble the futuristic wasteland where former cop "Mad Max" Rockatansky fights for his survival … and his sanity.

But perhaps what gives Max courage is what Gibson needs now — the ability to recognize that inner demons are sometimes the ultimate bad guys. As Max tells a lady friend, "I'm scared. … It's that rat circus out there, and I'm beginning to enjoy it. Any longer out on that road, and I'm one of them, a terminal psychotic except that I've got this bronze badge that says that I'm one of the good guys."