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Sept. 22, 2021

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Gibson far from ‘canceled,’ has 7 movies on way

‘Bandit’ starring Josh Duhamel due for release this year

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As is typical f or Mel Gibson, the controversial Oscar winner is back in the news, but not for anything having to do with acting or directing movies.

Last weekend, the 65-year-old “Braveheart” star was caught on video, giving a dramatic, full-on military salute to Donald Trump as the former president entered the arena for the UFC 264 fight between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier in Las Vegas, as confirmed by Snopes.com, the fact checking and rumor-debunking site.

The incident confirmed what many of Gibson’s critics have long suspected, given his history of racist, homophobic and antisemitic outbursts: He feels an affinity to Trump and probably supported him in the 2016 and 2020 elections, even though he hasn’t said so publicly.

But it’s not likely these critics will get their wish for Gibson to just go away or to suffer serious professional repercussions for apparently supporting Trump’s MAGA worldview. Similarly, Gibson’s conservative fan base shouldn’t expect an opportunity to vent righteous outrage over their movie hero becoming the latest target of liberal cancel culture.

That’s because Gibson is busy — very busy — these days in Hollywood. He shows no sign of being “canceled” — much to the dismay of people across social media who view him as morally reprehensible and undeserving of cultural icon status.

Gibson’s IMDb page, and press articles over the past couple years, show that very rich and powerful white men in Hollywood can continue to get away with a lot. They reveal he’s currently filming three movies, has three in post-production — one co-starring Mark Wahlberg — and one called “Bandit” that is currently at the Cannes Film Festival being shopped around.

Moreover, up until the July 5 death of director Richard Donner, Gibson and Danny Glover were in “active development” to reteam with Donner and make a fifth installment of their blockbuster cop-buddy franchise, “Lethal Weapon,” according to the film industry site, Joblo.com.

In addition, Gibson may be trying to push himself back into the center of prestige-movie talk, with plans to direct a remake of the 1969 landmark Western “The Wild Bunch.” IMDb and other industry reports say that Oscar winner Jamie Foxx might star, along with Oscar nominee Michael Fassbender and Emmy winner Peter Dinklage. With its story about aging outlaws and its famous macho energy and cinematic graphic violence, “The Wild Bunch” seems very much in Gibson’s wheelhouse.

Certainly, Gibson’s career suffered following his 2006 DUI arrest, in which he was recorded making antisemitic remarks to a police officer that included, “The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world!”

At the time, Gibson was one of the most bankable stars in Hollywood, after transforming from the smoldering hero of acclaimed Australian films into a popular American action star and then director. Gibson won an Academy Award for helming the 1995 film “Braveheart,” which also won best picture. He also directed the financially successful but controversial biblical film, “The Passion of the Christ,” and won critical acclaim for his work on the action-adventure film, “Apocalypto,” the year of his DUI arrest.

His public image further plummeted in 2010 after he was recorded using racial slurs and making threatening statements during a fight with his ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva, which were revealed on RadarOnline. After Grigorieva accused Gibson of domestic violence, he pleaded no contest in 2011 to a misdemeanor battery charge.

But Gibson denied assaulting Grigorieva or ever harming anyone physically and said he took a plea deal to put the case behind him. Gibson also tried to downplay his responsibility for his “unfortunate” antisemitic rant during his DUI arrest, saying in a 2016 interview that he was “loaded and angry,” but was “illegally recorded” by an unscrupulous police officer.

Gibson started to make a comeback in 2010, with the help of his friend and former co-star Jodie Foster, who put him in her movie “The Beaver.” He returned to directing in 2016 and again received Academy Award notice for his World War II drama, “Hacksaw Ridge.” He also appeared in “The Expendables 3” with fellow action-star veterans Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger and co-starred with Wahlberg and Will Ferrell in the family holiday comedy “Daddy’s Home 2” in 2017.

But news about Gibson in the past 18 months hasn’t focused on movies. He battled a case of COVID-19 that was severe enough to put him in the hospital for about a week, his spokesperson told Variety last summer. He also faced new accusations of antisemitism and homophobia after Winona Ryder said she heard him make bigoted remarks at a Hollywood party some years ago. Gibson denied making the comments, saying Ryder was lying and that her claims were “100 percent untrue.”

To be sure, Gibson hasn’t quite returned to the glory of his pre-2006 heyday, but he’s remained busy. For one thing, he’s been starring in lower-budget, genre films, often with a conservative bent, according to the Daily Beast.

That includes the 2018 cop drama “Dragged Across Concrete,” which a Daily Beast review called a “vile, racist, right-wing fantasy” because it sympathizes with its brutal police detective protagonists and revels in their tendency to inflict violence on women and people of color.

The politics of Gibson’s upcoming films remain to be seen, but they definitely fall into the action/thriller genre. They don’t come attached with A-list directors, though a few feature some recognizable stars, including Josh Duhamel, Dermot Mulroney, Cole Hauser, Charlie Hunnam and, most notably, Wahlberg.

This spring, Gibson and Wahlberg were filming “Stu,” a “faith-based” movie about a former boxer who turned to religion after a near-fatal motorcycle accident, “Today” reported. Gibson plays Wahlberg’s father in the film, which was written by Gibson’s girlfriend, Rosalind Ross, who also is directing the movie.

The next chance to see a new Gibson film may come with “Bandit,” based on a true story about a career criminal, played by Duhamel, who escapes from a U.S. prison and assumes a new identity in Canada. That’s the movie being shopped at Cannes and due for release this year.

Unfortunately, Gibson’s fans may not see him in a new “Lethal Weapon.” His friend Richard Donner was eager to direct “Lethal Weapon 5,” even at the age of 91. With his death, industry watchers now speculate that Gibson and Glover wouldn’t want to do the sequel without him, according to Joblo.com.

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