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Mel Gibson Returns from the Edge of Darkness

Mel Gibson in Edge of Darkness
Mel Gibson stars in “Edge of Darkness.”

Everybody knows the trouble Mel Gibson has seen. Through it all, the 54-year-old persevered, then bounced back.

Edge of Darkness is his latest thriller, which opens on Jan. 29. An adaptation of Martin Campbell’s 1985 BBC series, the Campbell-directed film marks Gibson’s return as a movie star, his first major role since 2002’s Signs.

Certainly, the Hollywood industry will be watching to see how fans react to him in front of the camera post-controversies. They include allegations of racism associated with his 2004 worldwide independent hit film, The Passion Of The Christ, and his Malibu drinking-while-driving incident in 2006.

In Edge Of Darkness, Gibson portrays a Boston police detective who investigates the murder of his activist daughter. He ends up confronting an operative (Ray Winstone), and U.S. government agents, when he uncovers a string of conspiracies, all pointing towards the illegal production of nuclear weapons.

The revenge part is vintage Gibson, who comes across like a mature version of his classic roles defining the unpredictable action hero – from Mad Max to the Lethal Weapon films. And there’s more to come.

Besides, Edge of Darkness, Gibson headlines the upcoming comedy-drama called The Beaver with Jodie Foster directing and co-starring. “She’s a ballsy girl,” he says of his friend from their Maverick days.

By March, he’s set to start shooting How I Spent My Summer Vacation

. He’ll star in the picture and direct it, as he did with his Oscar-winning Braveheart.

“It (How I Spent My Summer Vacation) is something that I wrote with the first and the second AD (assistant director) on Apocalypto,” confirms Gibson, referring to his 2006 directorial effort. “We wrote this story about a gringo in a Mexican prison.”

He has lots more on his to-do list, which the affable and always hyper Gibson was enthusiastic to discuss during a recent sit down at a Santa Monica beachside hotel.

Q: Why did you take a break from acting?

A: I was a bit stale and I thought that it wasn’t ringing my bells. So I focused on directing and writing and producing and all that kind of stuff, and then it was time to come back. I got the acting bug back.

Q: Did you feel rusty on Edge of Darkness?

A: A little bit. Martin (Campbell) had to tell me to tone it down a couple of times because you forget levels. But I mean you don’t do something for thirty years, and just forget it.

Q: So do you feel the time away from acting was worth it?

A: Yeah, pretty much. Somebody told me once, ‘Go away, dig a hole, do something else.” I cannot qualify how exactly but I know that something happened. There’s nothing better than a vacation sometimes.

Q: There were some tough fight scenes in Edge Of Darkness. Did you have to prepare?

A: I ordered a chiropractor for the day after because I knew how I was going to feel. I knew that I was going to wake up (feeling) like roadkill, and I did. You don’t pop back the way you used to, but that’s OK so long as it looks good.

Q: Do you work out on a regular basis?

A: I don’t. I quit smoking so that’s something in the right direction. There are no more fun things left. I just don’t do anything fun anymore.

Q: Were you a big smoker?

A: My mother smoked, I think, when I was in her womb. When I first had one, when I was nine, I was like, ‘Oh, my God, yes. I missed this.’ Then 45 years later, after every single artistic decision, or any decision, I’ve done them with a cigarette.

Q: Back to Edge of Darkness. Were there other challenges besides the action sequences?

A: Look, every time you do something you wonder if you can do it. There’s no secret recipe for success. You’re either going to be excoriated or praised or somewhere in between – or both sometimes. It’s all a challenge, the whole gig is a challenge.

Q: Especially your Viking film. Is that still in the development phase?

A: Yeah. My first thought ever about being a filmmaker was when I was 16, and I wanted to make a Viking movie. I wanted to make it in Old Norse which I was studying at that time.

Q: Are going to do it in Old Norse?

A: I think it’s going to be in English that would’ve been spoken back then and Old Norse. I’m going to give it to you real, man.

Q: And the film stars Leonardo DiCaprio?

A: Oh, he’ll be great. He’s an amazing actor, this kid.

Q: And what about another Mad Max with director George Miller. Have you ruled out a cameo?

A: I’ve talked to George, yeah. We had a good chin wag. I kind of dropped out a bit, but I can’t wait to see it.

© Copyright (c) Canwest News Service

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