Mel Gibson returns to acting with Edge of Darkness, his first lead role since 2002’s Signs. The reason for such a long break is simple, he insists: He got bored.
“I walked away from it after Signs because I just felt I was a bit stale. It wasn’t ringing my bells,” Gibson says.
“I was just tired and bored with it, you know?” But the veteran actor and director knew he wasn’t giving up for good.
“You don’t know. That’s why I didn’t make some big pronouncement, like, ‘I’m quitting, I’m retiring.’”
Quitting is something very much on Gibson’s mind these days, since at the time of our interview he was nine days into quitting smoking.
“The first three days, I was like an axe murderer,” he confides. “It is a hellish habit to break. Your neurons are involved. My mother smoked, I think, when I was in her womb.”
Quitting smoking was probably a good idea if he’s going to take on more films like Edge of Darkness, in which he plays a veteran cop trying to solve his daughter’s murder — and getting into plenty of scrapes along the way.
One particular fight scene called for some preparation, Gibson admits. “I ordered a chiropractor for the day after, because I knew I was going to wake up like roadkill, and I did,” he says. “You don’t bounce back as quick as you used to, and that guy’s 25 and he’s taking it easy on me. It’s not a pleasant experience.”
Gibson’s next film, The Beaver, co-starring and directed by Jodie Foster, sounds much less physical — and a lot quirkier.
“It’s about a guy who’s clinically depressed,” Gibson explains. “Circumstances somehow dictate that he finds himself with a ratty beaver hand puppet on his arm, and he manages to kind of save himself and his life and his family and everything by expressing himself through this hand puppet, because that’s all he can do.”
As for Gibson the director, he’s eager to return to the past with a long-planned Viking film starring Leonardo DiCaprio.
“The very first idea I ever had about making a film was when I was 16 years old and I wanted to make a Viking movie,” Gibson says. “And I wanted to make it in Old Norse.”
Much like with The Passion of the Christ and Apocalypto, Gibson plans on using historically accurate language.
“I think it’s going to be English — the English that would have been spoken back then — and Old Norse,” he says.
“Whatever the ninth century had to offer. I’m going to give you real. I want a Viking to scare you. I want to see somebody who I have never seen before speaking low, guttural German who scares the living s— out of me coming up to my house.”