Mel Gibson 'Recut'
By Shannon Woodland and Scott
The 700 Club
700 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
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
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.
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.
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
ROSS: Obedience is a big word. I remember someone
saying to me once, 'It costs you to obey God. It costs you more
GIBSON: Yes. Well, that's true. I agree with
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.
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?
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
GIBSON: No. Disappointment doesn't come into
it, because I didn't expect anything.
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,
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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