Mel Gibson – A Varied Career


We all have seen some of the great American films that have been famous for their exceptional storyline, direction, and cinematography. The American film industry, Hollywood, has made it word around the world with some of the top movies being released every year. Perhaps one of the main reasons for this is that there are some of the best directors in the industry that have helped in upbringing Hollywood. Mel Colmcille Gerard Gibson is among one of those. But Mel has not always been a Director and instead had a very varied professional career throughout his life. Learn more about Mel Gibson and his career in the article below.

Early Life

Mel Gibson was born on January 3, 1956 in New York and was the sixth of the seven children in his family. At the age of 12, Mel and his family relocated to Australia. In 1974, Mel Gibson enrolled in the National Institute of Dramatic Art in Sydney. During his time of being at school, Mel Gibson first appeared on screen by playing the role of a Surfer in the 1977 film, The Summer City. He graduated in the same year after which he joined the State Theatre Company of South Australia.

Stage and Theatres

In the beginning of his career, Gibson is also known to have worked in multiple live plays and theatres as well. He has played the role of Queen Titania in a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream but was only considered as an experimental production. While working at The State Theatre Company of South Australia in Adelaide, he played the role of Estragon in Waiting for Godot as well as Biff Loman in production of Death of a Salesman.

His both performances were highly liked by the audience which was another reason why Gibson continued to be a star. In his career, his last performance as a stage actor is considered to be in 1993 when the theatre show Love Letters was produced.

Mel Gibson in 1985.

The Australian Television and Film Industry

This was a major breakthrough in the career of Mel Gibson as an actor. He then appeared in the form of a star role in George Miller’s action film, Mad Max, where he took the role of a renegade cop. However, perhaps the most important aspect which helped Mel Gibson in rising in his professional career includes his role of being a disabled handyman in the film Tim in 1979. The film was significant towards his career because Gibson was awarded the Australian Film Institute’s Best Actor Award for the first time which opened up many new doors for him.

In addition to that, Gibson also appeared on television series named The Sullivan’s as a naval lieutenant, Cop Shop as a Police Personnel and also appeared in the Pilot Episode of the serial Punishment. Soon after attaining his first award in 1979, he received the second award for the Best Actor in the Australian Film Institute for his exceptional role in the World War I Drama film Gallipoli that was released in 1981.

The two major awards in just two years got him the attention that he needed. Gibson was now appearing to be a much more versatile and serious actor which brought significant attention by Hollywood towards him. In 1982, the film Mad Max 2 (The Road Warrior) was released which was a major hit in all of America. It was a film which received major positive responses from the critics and audiences. In the same year, Gibson was also noticed for his thrilling role in the film, The Year of Living Dangerously. Soon afterwards, Gibson took a break from his career due to the birth of his two sons.

Arrival to Hollywood

Gibson was already in talks with multiple agents of Hollywood following a break of his career. In 1984, he made his first American film debut named The River by Mark Rydell. He played the role of struggling Tennessee farmers in this film. Since Gibson had not officially quit the Australian Film Industry, he starred in the romantic film Mrs. Stoffel in 1984 for the Australian Director Gillian Armstrong. By 1985, he had worked on a total of four films which is why he again took a break and reappeared in the Hollywood film Lethal Weapon by Martin Riggs in 1987. This helped him gain the status of a Hollywood leading man.

Gibson was on Speed

One thing that was seen in almost every aspect was that Gibson was always working at multiple films at a time and was not stopping. In 1988 he starred in the film Tequila Sunrise while the second part of Lethal Weapon Film was also released in 1989 where Gibson played a leading role.  In a very short period, Gibson starred in the next three films which were shot and released in under a year and were all released in 1990 namely Bird on a Wire, Air America, and Hamlet.

Career in the 90s

Gibson was no longer with the Australian Film Institute and was working as a full time Hollywood actor. In the 90s, he was casted in more than 10 films much of which include Forever Young, Lethal Weapon 3, Maverick, and Braveheart, Ransom, Conspiracy Theory, Lethal Weapon 4, and Payback. In the 1990s, Mel Gibson was also a part of different types of commercials as well as personal projects. Having a diverse career, he was now becoming the center of attention in Hollywood. In 2000, Gibson had a salary of $20 million for being a part of American hit film named The Patriot.

The 1990s was also a period where Gibson directed his first ever film named The Man Without a Face in 1993. Later, he also directed the film Braveheart in 1995. Gibson earned the Academy Award for Best Director. This was the decade which was significant towards Gibson’s career of directing.

Mel Gibson in 1990s.

Changing Mindset

In 2002, Gibson appeared in Veteran drama film named We Were Soldiers and another film named Signs. These became the highest grossing films of his career, but Gibson soon had changing perceptions. He claimed that he only wanted to be a movie star if there was some extraordinary script. This brought a major break to his career as he reappeared in 2010 in the film Edge of Darkness. Continuing his career since then, Gibson also played the role of villains in the film Machete Kills in 2013 and The Expendables 3 in 2014.

Mel Gibson in Singapore in 2007.

Director Mel Gibson

Gibson has had a unique aspect of choice when it came to create and directing films. His approach was unlike many others which is why he often landed up in many controversies as well. For example, his film‘The Passion’ was announced in September 2002. Gibson stated that this film was to be in Aramaic and Latin with no subtitles to transcend language barriers with the film element of storytelling.

In 2004, the film, The Passion of the Christ was released which became a highly popular R-rated film and grossed more than $370 million at the box office. However, this film did have subtitles. Nonetheless, this film got Gibson into many controversies as many felt that it was a direct attack on Jesus Christ and the Christianity religion. Protests were held all over the world which became one of the reasons why this film got popular. In many countries, this film was banned as well.

This did not stop Gibson from creating another film in his career that was going to be controversial. In 2006, the film Apocalypto was released which focused on the Maya Civilization and Maya Culture. The film got much negative feedback from archaeologists and historians for distorting the history by misrepresenting the facts and figures of the civilization. For his controversial films, critic Matt Zoller Seitz named Gibson as the pre-eminent religious filmmaker of Hollywood.

Gibson with co-star Sylvester Stallone.


Mel Gibson has had a successful career with a few controversies always hitting him. The issue of him out bursting on his girlfriend as well as a few other events became the reason as to why his image and reputation plummeted in Hollywood. However, with determination, Gibson proved his success. Throughout his career, Gibson has received several awards for him and his films. Today, Gibson is still considered as an important icon in the Hollywood Film industry and is also the role model for many. He has announced his future plans regarding directing newer films as well as further continuing in the industry rather than simply retiring away.