It should come as no surprise that Hollywood loves a good comeback story. Whether it's a cinematic tale of a downtrodden boxer - Rocky Balboa, from Philadelphia who becomes champion of the world - or the real-world exploits of someone like Robert Downey Jr. who went from bad boy to Iron Man, the troubles that are encountered by characters and the actors that play them are often why pieces of cinema become ingrained in our consciousness.

Despite our willingness to forgive and forget, one person in Hollywood remains a pariah; Mel Gibson.

For some, the Australian actor is best known for his role as Detective Martin Riggs in the Lethal Weapon franchise or as the titular character of Max Rockatansky in Mad Max. Others still champion him for his turn as the helmer for Braveheart - which earned him wins for Best Picture and Best Director at the 1996 Academy Awards - and for The Passion of the Christ which remains the highest-grossing R-rated movie of all time.

But most probably equate Mel Gibson with an anti-Semitic rhetoric and a white hot temper which was caught on tape - thus making his outburst unable to be met with typical Hollywood spin.

After a decade in exile - with small returns in The Beaver and Machete Kills - Gibson's name has once again popped up with, albeit with positive connotations, which suggests that he is poised for a major comeback despite his documented history.

His latest film, Hacksaw Ridge, received a 10-minute standing ovation following it's premiere at the Venice Film Festival.

Telling the tale of the first conscientious objector to receive the Medal of Honor, Andrew Garfield plays Seventh-Day Adventist, Desmond Dosss, who feels it is his duty to serve during WWII, but at the same time can’t disobey his religious convictions against picking up arms. Doss ultimately overcomes the Army’s ridicule and scorn to serve as a medic at Hacksaw Ridge during the Battle of Okinawa where he helps saves countless American lives.

The theme of the film itself suggests that Gibson is exploring elements that fall in line with his own checkered past; namely, voicing an unpopular and controversial opinion regardless of its reception.

The sentiment shift for Mel Gibson began with the release of his 2004 film, The Passion of the Christ. Although a resounding financial success and proof that faith-based films are a viable genre, Gibson took heat for what many in the Jewish community interpreted as a viewpoint that insinuated that Jews were responsible for Jesus's death.

In a statement, Gibson stated that the film was intended "to inspire, not offend."

"We've got a film that's really white robes versus black robes," said Rabbi A. James Rudin of the American Jewish Community, which is committed to opposing anti-Semitism worldwide. "And the black robes belong to the traditional scapegoat in history, the Jewish people and the Jewish religion, and that's what makes me angry and very disappointed in this film."

Actor Jim Caviezel, who played Jesus of Nazareth, recalled an early conversation he had with Gibson who told him about the risks he faced if he played the role.

"You'll never work in this town again," Gibson warned him.

All of this came a year after another controversial director, Roman Polanski, won Best Director in absentia at the Academy Awards for his film The Pianist despite being unable to set foot in the United States since 1978 without going to jail after he was about to be sentenced to prison for having sex with a 13-year-old girl, Samantha Geimer.

Following Polanski's nomination, Geimer wrote in The Los Angeles Times, "I believe that Mr. Polanski and his film should be honored according to the quality of the work. What he does for a living and how good he is at it have nothing to do with me or what he did to me. I don't think it would be fair to take past events into consideration. I think that the academy members should vote for the movies they feel deserve it. Not for people they feel are popular."

Gibson's 2006 Mayan epic, Apocalypto, was condemned by a Guatemalan official for painting Mayan people in a derogatory light.

"It shows the Mayans as a barbarous, murderous people that can only be saved by the arrival of the Spanish," said Ricardo Cajas, Guatemala's presidential commissioner on racism.

Ignacio Ochoa, director of the Nahual Foundation that promotes Mayan culture, echoed Cajas' sentiments, calling the film "an offensive and racist notion that Maya people were brutal to one another... and thus deserved rescue."

Despite the controversy, Apocalypto was a critical and financial success, with A.O. Scott writing in The New York Times, “And say what you will about him — about his problem with booze or his problem with Jews — he is a serious filmmaker.”

The personal troubles began in in 2006 when Gibson was arrested by Malibu police for driving under the influence of alcohol. During questioning, Gibson reportedly said to one of the officers, "Fucking Jews. The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world. Are you a Jew?”

Days after his arrest, Gibson said the anti-Semitic comments were "blurted out in a moment of insanity."

"There is no excuse, nor should there be any tolerance, for anyone who thinks or expresses any kind of anti-Semitic remark," Gibson said in a statement issued by his publicist.

"I want to apologize specifically to everyone in the Jewish community for the vitriolic and harmful words that I said to a law enforcement officer the night I was arrested on a DUI charge."

In July of that same year, Mel Gibson entered a rehab facility to treat his addiction.

While doing press for the 2010 film Edge of Darkness, Gibson bristled when reporters suggested his career had been majority derailed by the incident in Malibu.

“That was almost four years ago, dude. I’ve moved on, I guess you haven’t,” Gibson snapped at WGN TV reporter Dean Richards. “I‘ve done all the necessary mea culpas. Let’s move on.”

In another testy exchange over his past actions, Gibson told Jewish KTLA Morning News entertainment reporter Sam Rubin, “I gather you have a dog in this fight?”

Robert Downey Jr. came to Gibson's defense at an awards ceremony in October 2011 at the Beverly Hilton, asking the crowd to join him “unless you are completely without sin, in which case you picked the wrong fucking industry, in forgiving my friend his trespasses, offering the same clean slate you have me, and allowing him to continue his great and ongoing contributions to our collective art without shame.”

Despite Downey's plea, the negative press for Gibson continued to emerge.

While doing an interview with GQ for Black Swan, Winona Ryder recalled a run-in she had with Gibson.

"I remember, like, fifteen years ago, I was at one of those big Hollywood parties," she said. "And he was really drunk. I was with my friend, who's gay. He made a really horrible gay joke. And somehow it came up that I was Jewish. He said something about 'oven dodgers,' but I didn't get it. I'd never heard that before. It was just this weird, weird moment. I was like, 'He's anti-Semitic and he's homophobic.' No one believed me!"

Gibson would once again find himself being judged harshly by the public after leaked audio tapes emerged between he and his former girlfriend, Oksana Grigorieva, where he ranted at her, "You look like a fucking bitch in heat, and if you get raped by a pack of ni**ers it’ll be your fault," "You need a fucking bat in the side of the head," and "I’m threatening, I’ll put you in a fucking rose garden, you cunt. You understand that? ‘Cause I’m capable of it."

In 2012, screenwriter Joe Eszterhas said in a letter to Mel Gibson that the actor and filmmaker “hates Jews.”

Ezsterhas sent the letter following Warner Bros.’s rejection of his screenplay for Gibson’s movie about Judah Maccabee - who led a heroic Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire. Eszterhas wrote that Gibson wanted to make the movie only so he could “convert the Jews to Christianity" and Gibson announced the project only “in an attempt to deflect continuing charges of anti-Semitism which have dogged you, charges which have crippled your career.”

If you needed any proof that Hollywood can forgive in certain instances, but not in others, look no further than The Hangover franchise.

In the original film, Mike Tyson provides one of the most memorable cameos in recent memory despite a rape conviction and subsequent three-year jail term. This line of thinking would suggest that Woody Allen's own view on humor - “Comedy is tragedy plus time” - worked because Tyson was 17-years removed from his legal troubles.

However, when director Todd Phillips intended to use Mel Gibson in a similar role in the sequel, his would-be castmates reportedly refused to work with the actor. The role would later be filled by Liam Neeson and then Nick Cassavetes.

The most recent, high-profile Hollywood controversy involves Nate Parker - the actor, writer, director and producer of The Birth of a Nation which was picked up by Fox Searchlight at the Sundance Film Festival for record $17.5 million and showered in praise and adulation much in the same way Gibson's Hacksaw Ridge was received in Venice.

Gibson actually provided directorial guidance to Parker, with the latter recalling, "I also reached out to Mel Gibson. Maybe three months later, I get a phone call — 'Nate, it’s Mel.' 'Mel who?' I took maybe 30 pages of notes. His best advice was don’t work on Sunday. He said: 'You need a day off if you’re going to direct yourself. I did this for seven months on ‘Braveheart.’ You need time for recovery and reflection — just sitting, drinking tea.' That’s exactly what I did. On Sunday, I would go into a dark room and drink tea."

In 1999, as a student and wrestler at Penn State University, Parker and his roommate Jean Celestin - who went on to co-write the story for The Birth of a Nation - were charged with raping a 18-year-old female student in their apartment after a night of drinking.

In a 2001 trial, he was acquitted, based on testimony that he had previously had consensual sexual relations with his accuser. But Celestin was found guilty and sentenced to six months in prison.

Four years ago the woman who accused Nate Parker of rape committed suicide.

“Seventeen years ago, I experienced a very painful moment in my life,” Parker told Variety. “It resulted in it being litigated. I was cleared of it. That’s that. Seventeen years later, I’m a filmmaker. I have a family. I have five beautiful daughters. I have a lovely wife. I get it. The reality is I can’t relive 17 years ago. All I can do is be the best man I can be now.”

Despite his status as it relates to the criminal justice system, people are beginning to question if they can separate Parker's personal problems from his filmmaking. Roman Polanski's continued Hollywood career would suggest that you can, but Mel Gibson remains a cautionary tale. But should Gibson once again embark on an Academy Award quest and Parker be derailed by the past, it opens up new charges about just how backwards and racist the system can be.

As Variety put it, "Can Hollywood really end up condoning one but condemning the other?"

For those that have ever studied story or screenwriting, you will recognize the notion that a character should undergo some type of transformation during his/her journey as to signify that things will never be the same. Mel Gibson has addressed his troubled past on numerous occasions and seemingly said and done all the right things to warrant a second and third chance at resuming his career. But just like there are actors and actresses who will work with him, there are equal if not more who probably choose not to. And that's okay.

Do I think Mel Gibson has changed? Yes. But not in the Hollywood way where he learned the err in his ways and somehow likes Jews now. No, I still think he believes that they're oven dodgers.

Then how has Gibson changed?

In a 1995 Playboy article, Gibson stated, "I'll apologize when hell freezes over."

From this side of the table, this is Gibson's evolution. He has learned to say sorry for his bigotry.

What To Read Next

  • Image on Highsnobiety

    Kanye, Imma Let You Finish, But These adidas Are Not YEEZYs

  • Image on Highsnobiety

    The Best SS23 Menswear Looks, From Hermès to Hed Mayner

  • Image on Highsnobiety

    "This Shoe Is a Fake YEEZY": Kanye Lashes Out at adidas

  • Image on Highsnobiety

    Cactus Jack x Dior Is Actually Releasing After All

  • Image on Highsnobiety

    The Best Sneakers to Add to Your Rotation This Week

  • Image on Highsnobiety

    American Girl Doll Memes & Mormom TikTok: Here’s What’s New With Petra Collins

*If you submitted your e-mail address and placed an order, we may use your e-mail address to inform you regularly about similar products without prior explicit consent. You can object to the use of your e-mail address for this purpose at any time without incurring any costs other than the transmission costs according to the basic tariffs. Each newsletter contains an unsubscribe link. Alternatively, you can object to receiving the newsletter at any time by sending an e-mail to

Web Accessibility Statement

Titelmedia (Highsnobiety), is committed to facilitating and improving the accessibility and usability of its Website, Titelmedia strives to ensure that its Website services and content are accessible to persons with disabilities including users of screen reader technology. To accomplish this, Titelmedia has engaged UsableNet Inc, a leading web accessibility consultant to help test, remediate and maintain our Website in-line with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), which also bring the Website into conformance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.


Please be aware that our efforts to maintain accessibility and usability are ongoing. While we strive to make the Website as accessible as possible some issues can be encountered by different assistive technology as the range of assistive technology is wide and varied.

Contact Us

If, at any time, you have specific questions or concerns about the accessibility of any particular webpage on this Website, please contact us at, +49 (0)30 235 908 500. If you do encounter an accessibility issue, please be sure to specify the web page and nature of the issue in your email and/or phone call, and we will make all reasonable efforts to make that page or the information contained therein accessible for you.