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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

Mel Gibson 'Recut'

By Shannon Woodland and Scott Ross
The 700 Club

CBN.com700 Club Producer Scott Ross talks with Mel Gibson about the opposition he experienced after releasing The Passion of the Christ, why he decided to release The Passion Recut, why he was surprisingly not disappointed by this year's Oscar results, and why his faith in God is his ultimate passion.

SCOTT ROSS: Have you had time to step back and evaluate what’s happened to you in the last couple of years as a result of The Passion of the Christ?

MEL GIBSON: Oh yeah.

ROSS: How do you feel?

GIBSON: I feel good. I wouldn’t change a thing. It was a pretty worthwhile experience.

ROSS: Even the flack?

GIBSON: Oh yeah. That’s what I am referring to. Not that I was a masochist – I didn't enjoy that – but pain is a precursor to change. That was a necessary part of it. I mean, if you are touching on the truth in any way, that’s going to make flack. And that, to me, was a pretty good indication I was on the right track.

ROSS: Were you surprised from the fallout?

GIBSON: I was, actually. I expected maybe a little bit of rumble, but it turned into a full-blown screaming dragon. It was an interesting thing to deal with.

ROSS: To quote someone we both know, ‘how to love your enemies,’ how did you love your enemies? Or did you?

GIBSON: It doesn’t mean you have to like them. You can love people without liking them.

ROSS: What have you learned about yourself in this process?

GIBSON: I have learned that a bitter experience can make you stronger. I now boastfully say that I have a hide like a rhinoceros… and I’m smiling. It’s an interesting thing. For an entire year, the mainstream press was writing really scathing things – hateful things – completely unjustified and mostly dishonest, at least disingenuous. [There were] personal attacks on myself, my family, brothers, sisters, people calling them up and recording their phone calls – all kinds of weird stuff.

ROSS: To rewind a little bit, where did the seeds of this begin in you? Was there something going on in your life that triggered it? Was it something that was just growing over a period of time and it came full-bloom, or was it progressive?

GIBSON: Well, I think seeds don’t necessarily have to grow as soon as they’re planted. I was in a very devout family, and a large family.

ROSS: Catholic?

GIBSON: Yeah, and we were instructed from a very early age about what was what and about what was important. Although I’ve traveled off and done my own thing – all that sort of wild stuff, as many of us have – there’s an indelible mark that it’s just inside you. You can’t extinguish that. At a certain point in time, it becomes real, tangible, and I felt it necessary to express it. I suppose the evolution of this particular story took over 15 years.

ROSS: Really?

GIBSON: Yeah, that's when it first kind of occurred to me. And I thought, How do you do that and make it compelling and watchable and meaningful and emotional? It would be hard. How does an audience actually stay there and witness that level of brutality and sacrifice that is required? There’s about 15 years of talking to theologians and all sorts of people. I didn’t just create this thing in a vacuum, as was suggested by the mainstream press. It was very well informed. Eventually, it had to come out, or it would have just been stifled.

ROSS: Do you believe in something sovereign, something within your destiny, as it was said in the Scripture, you were 'born for such a time as this,' that this was something that is a calling that you're fulfilling by doing this?

GIBSON: I don’t know. I don’t think there is any such thing as an accident.

ROSS: You don’t?

GIBSON: No. I think everything is pretty well preordained – even your mistakes.

ROSS: But you have choices about those?

GIBSON: You do. One has free will. I’m not some mindless robot. I’m part of the process. I have to choose. But even those are known. Hey, I’m just some dumb critter walking around on terra firma trying to figure out the big picture. I was just compelled to do this. That is all I know.

ROSS: Obedience is a big word. I remember someone saying to me once, 'It costs you to obey God. It costs you more not to.'

GIBSON: Yes. Well, that's true. I agree with that.

ROSS: All right. Did you believe that you were obeying the voice of God by doing that?

GIBSON: Yeah, it's the truth. Many people argue that it's not true at all, that it is just a bunch of fairy tales that four guys cooked up and wrote about, and they say that they [the Gospels] all disagree, which is utter tripe. They [the Gospels] merely complete one another.

ROSS: You were talking earlier about being raised in the church. What have you discovered in the larger picture of the universal church? You have been introduced to a whole plethora of people, a whole side of the church perhaps you have never been exposed to before. What did you see? What did you learn from that?

GIBSON: I know that there are a lot of people out there with great hearts who are searching for the truth. I think we all are. There's a huge nation here based on Christian principles from the Constitution. The most troubling thing about that is people seem to be forgetting those things, those principles. Particularly, one of the reasons I made the film was to express the idea of propitiatory sacrifice.

ROSS: Say that in English.

GIBSON: Sacrifice made on your behalf to purchase something for you.

ROSS: The enormous financial returns on this thing, I mean you invested your own dollars initially.

GIBSON: Yeah.

ROSS: Then there is this return. It would seem that God is saying, 'I will bless this thing.' Obviously, He has.

GIBSON: He doesn't always smile on you with material reward. That's not always necessarily part of it. In this case it was. But I was prepared for it to not work at all. I didn't know that it would. Fortunately, it touched a lot of people. Therefore, they went and saw it and recommended it to other people. I have to say the champion of this push was the evangelical community. They were really rock solid. It did extremely well and many people loved it, and they sent correspondence. But I got some correspondences that were on the lines of 'ah, it was great, but I wish I could have taken my Aunt Martha or Uncle Frank.' They stayed away because they had heard of the more wrenching aspects of the film. It's pretty brutal in spots – and intentionally so. But I got enough of those things, like, 'I wish I could have taken a 15-year-old,' so I thought maybe there is room to reenter the edit and find another way, keeping the impact of the film, the integrity of the film, but extracting some of the more wrenching or brutal aspects of the film, and therefore making it available to a wider audience. That's, in effect, what I've done. It didn't get a PG-13. It's still hard, but it is not as hard. It's not as big of a release as the other one. It's already been out there, but bearing in mind that it's been softened some to attract a wider audience, I think it may do all right. And if it doesn't, that's OK, too.

ROSS: I don't want to get too personal with you, but with your wife, do you guys pray together? Is this a part of your life?

GIBSON: My family prays together.

ROSS: All the time?

GIBSON: You got it. They're all together, we're all together, so it must work.

ROSS: How many children do you have?

GIBSON: Seven.

ROSS: You are a Catholic!

GIBSON: [Laughs] I even got a minivan. I have got the Catholic wagon.

ROSS: [Laughs] You know, a guy with your value system and gone through this now, how are you maintaining that spirituality in the midst of the industry that you are in?

GIBSON: You should be able to go anywhere if you take it with you; it's a survival kit. I haven't always been successful. We all fall over. I'm not polishing a halo or anything. It's not like that.

ROSS: Are you disappointed by the fact that you weren't recognized by the degree you might have been at the Oscars?

GIBSON: No. Disappointment doesn't come into it, because I didn't expect anything.

ROSS: Really?

GIBSON: Well, if you don't expect anything, you can't be disappointed. It is exactly what I expected not to be recognized, so I didn't do the massive marketing campaign. I just put the film out there and said if they are going to judge it, then judge it on its own merits.

ROSS: There were three nominations.

GIBSON: Yeah, that was all right. None of them got anything, but they were there. They all deserve accolades for what they have done. It was superior work on every front, I thought.

ROSS: Where do you go from here? You are changed enough by this thing, maybe more so than you realize. What kind of scripts are you going to take? What kind of work from here?

GIBSON: I am certainly more discerning about what I do. I haven't worked in front of a camera for more than three years. I haven't wanted to. I've been doing this in front of the camera gig for 30 years now. That's a long time. I think I am a veteran.

ROSS: There is a Scripture in the New Testament that says, 'Well done, good and faithful servant.'

GIBSON: Oh yeah.

ROSS: You think maybe you might hear those words?

GIBSON: I don't know. I think maybe just the first word of that, 'Well?'

ROSS: [Laughs] Done! Maybe we are, too.

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