Mel Gibson: “A Man is not Able to Create a Big Thing Alone”

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The International Film Festival in Karlovy Vary is famous for the fact that it gathers beneath the same roof or, more properly, beneath a marvelous sky various little-known novice creators and Czech masters as well as world-class stars. The chief guest of the last festival was a two-time Oscar winner, one of the most popular actors and directors in Hollywood – Mel Gibson. He introduced the movie Apocalypto to the guests of the festival.

The actor had also told them about his active childhood and hard director’s craft, had explained why it is important not “to bother too much” and be able to listen to other people’s opinions. 

You grew up in a large family…

Yes, I was the 6th child out of 11.

Not a bad school for a blockbuster actor.

(Laughs) Kind of. The boys are always trying to find out something among them. So my brothers and I fought constantly and taunted each other. But in fact we are a friendly family, we love each other. Last time we had some tough brawl was about 40 years ago (laughs).

Nevertheless, you are not from an acting family. Why did you choose this profession? Story is that you were never particularly interested in Hollywood.

I can’t say whether I was interested or not. I didn’t care. My sister had signed me up for an audition in acting school. And when I came there I noticed that many of the entrants were incredibly nervous. I did not care. I was completely relaxed and not expecting anything. As a result, the commission chose me.

So your winning formula is – not to care?

Not to care – it’s cool, yes. If a person is care to much about getting something, he gets nothing.

Does it mean that everyone sitting in the audience can be a movie star if he has got a proper approach?

No, definitely not. Good acting is a combination of many things, many talents, I can not even explain what kind of things… But every man can become the best in what he is doing, that is for sure. I’m good at something, too. I just do not know what that something is. (Laughs) 

Well, for example, you know how to skillfully make a pause in your career, and then make a loud comeback.

Yes (laughs).

Seriously, not all first-magnitude stars manage to stay afloat after the break. You were not in films for 6 years and afterwards you returned with some high-profile movies. Obviously, Hollywood missed Mel Gibson, the actor, and what about you? Have you missed Hollywood?

No, not at all. I directed and did a whole bunch of other things. I constantly filmed for 19 years. I needed a break.

Tell us about your directorial activities. Was it difficult to stand on the opposite side of the camera?

I was terrified. I consulted with friends engaged in film industry. But no one was able to help me. Finally I called Clint Eastwood who said to me: “Don’t worry. Just take it and do it. You’ve been doing this for a long time, it is impossible to predict all things anyways.” And he was right. This work is hard, of course. You need to solve thousand problems every day. A Film director is always the most needed person. For example, at the end of the filming of “Brave heart” which had lasted for five months, I was not able even to talk, just could not utter a word. This work is very exhausting both physically and mentally. 

What is your philosophy of working with the team at the movie set? Some directors adhere to an authoritarian style not giving ear to the team; on the contrary, some are open to new ideas and welcome them in every way.

Man is not able to create a decent product alone. Every big thing is the result of a few bright minds capable of producing some great ideas working together.

What would you advise young directors and actors who are at the beginning of their career?

Often young creators honestly believe that Los Angeles is the Mecca of the film industry. It was so. But, I think that time had passed. Nothing special is happening today in Hollywood. Nowadays “local” production movies are the most appealing.

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