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MEL GIBSON: MAD MAX TO MAINSTREAM

Kesta Allen

Australia's
most famous
movie star
goes mainstream

 

 

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A devout Catholic and family man, Australia's most famous film star is an unlikely role model for such action movies as Mad Max and Lethal Weapon.

Although he is known as one of Australia's most famous movie actors, Mel Columcille Gerard Gibson was born in New York, America. His father was a railwayman and his mother was an Australian opera singer. Mel had ten brothers and sisters! When Mel's father won a big prize on the television quiz show Jeopardy he decided to move the family to his wife's home country. They settled in Sydney, New South Wales in 1968. Mel was 12 years old.

Teased at school for his American accent, Mel quickly developed the broad ‘Aussie’ accent he still has today. He wanted to fit in. 'I had to adjust to the place,' he says. 'I adjusted and adapted quite well, 16,000 gallons of beer later.'

After trying to become a journalist, Mel changed to study drama. At first he had very bad stage fright. But his sister was sure he had talent and sent in applications for auditions for two movies without telling Mel.

In the first of these films Mel was given the title role, Tim. His performance as a mentally retarded man won him a Sammy, an Australian award. The night before the audition for the other film he got into a fight. He went to the audition with his face badly cut and bruised. The directors wanted someone rough and tough to play the lead role. When they saw Mel's battered face, they knew they had their man for Mad Max.


The film was about a leather-wearing Australian cop after a nuclear war which became a cult classic.
The famous Australian film director Peter Weir was impressed by his acting and cast Mel in the powerful World War II drama Gallipoli. His performance won him his second Sammy.

The same year Mel starred in Mad Max II. Peter Weir chose Mel again for his film The Year Of Living Dangerously about an uncaring reporter covering an Indonesian coup. It led to starring roles in several Hollywood films. 

Mel went back to Australia in 1985 to play Max Kowalski one last time in Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome. His co-star in this extravagant film was singer Tina Turner. 

After a
two-year break, Mel came back to Hollywood to star with Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon. This thrilling action movie was made remarkable by Mel's performance and by the obvious ‘chemistry’ between Mel and Danny. Mel played Martin Riggs, a man who becomes uncaring of death after his own wife dies. The movie and the three sequels became huge box-office successes and made Mel Gibson a superstar.

With his new wealth, Mel started his own production company, ICON productions. He directed, and starred in, his own film The Man Without A Face. It tells the story of a young boy's relationship with a man who has been horribly burned. It is a sensitive and moving film, a complete contrast to the action of the Mad Max and Lethal Weapon movies. 

Mel's second attempt at directing, producing and starring was a huge success. Braveheart is the epic story of a 13th century Scottish leader William Wallace and his struggle to make Scotland independent. It won more Oscars than any other film in 1995.

Mel's popularity and reputation have continued to grow with films such as Conspiracy Theory, Ransom and Payback. People magazine has voted him one of the world's Top 50 Most Beautiful People three times!

However there is a contradiction between his image as a hard man in violent films and his life off-screen. He holds strong views in favour of capital punishment and against gun control. He is a devout Catholic and a committed family man. Somehow, during his full movie career, he and his wife Robyn have managed to have seven children. He sends his older children to a boarding school in Australia. 'I think it's character building - those guys run them like marines. If they do anything wrong they're on a six-mile run.'
 

Mel also has a sense of humour, which cannot be kept under control at work. While filming with Julia Roberts, he sent her a freeze-dried rat as a present. As the producer for Payback, he hired the Chicago Bulls' cheerleaders to commemorate the first day for Brian Helgeland as a film director.  When asked if he will be chosen to play the next Batman, he can't resist a joke. 'I don't want to have dialogue with Robin,' he grins, ' I get enough of that at home.'

Source: New English Digest

GLOSSARY

goes mainstream: is carried along by the course of events (sigue la corriente)
role model: someone whose behaviour people try to copy because they admire them (modelo a imitar)
quiz show: a game show in which contestants answer questions (programa de preguntas y respuestas)
jeopardy: danger (peligro)
tease
d: to make jokes and laugh at someone (burlado)
aussie: a native or inhabitant of Australia (australiano)
to fit in: to adapt myself to be accepted (adaptarse para ser aceptado)
journalist: a writer for newspapers and magazines (periodista)
stage fright: nervousness felt by an actor who is about to perform
(temor a salir a escena)
applications: written requests for employment or admission (postulaciones)
Mel was given: they gave Mel (le dieron a Mel)
bruised: injured without breaking the skin (llena de moretones)
rough and tough: fierce and sturdy (violento y recio)
battered: damaged by blows (arruinada por los golpes)
leather-wearing Australian cop: Australian policeman wearing leather clothes (policía australiano vestido de cuero)
cast: selected (lo seleccionó a)
uncaring: lacking affection (incomprensivo)

coup: a sudden and decisive change of government illegally or by forcejuree skin (golpe de estado)
it led to: this took him to (esto lo llevó a)
two-year break: a gap of two years without work (lapso de dos años sin actividad)
remarkable: singular or unusual (notable)

chemistry: in this context, the way that the characters change and interact
(química)
sequel: a film which continues the story of an earlier one
(secuelas, continuaciones)
huge box-office successes: big top hits (enormes éxitos de taquilla)
wealth
: riches, plentiful supply of material goods and money (riqueza)

s
truggle: effort (esfuerzo)
off-screen: off-work, during his inactive periods (fuera de la pantalla)
character-building: helping to build character (forjador de carácter)
run them like marines: direct them like soldiers (los dirigen como soldados)
they're on a six-mile run: they make them run 6 miles (los obligan a correr 6 millas)
hired: employed, engaged (contrató)
grins: draws back the lips and reveals the teeth in a smile (sonríe socarronamente)

 

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