Sunday, 11 July 2010

He's a lethal weapon

Better fire up that old copy of Air America, because it's going to be a while until Mel Gibson is back on the big screen to thrill us with his alpha-male japery. Throughout the eighties and nineties, Mel was the bemulleted bad boy who took no shit and could face off against the most intimidating villains with a swig of Jack Daniels, a flash of his buttocks and a gravelly laugh.

In fact, his two most successful franchises, Mad Max and Lethal Weapon, focused on marvelous Mel's tenuous grasp on his sanity as a major plot point. Now it seems that maybe those blockbuster roles weren't such a stretch for him.

Things all started going wrong for Mel in 2006 when he decided to get liquored up, hurl anti-semitic abuse at the police and introduce the phrase 'sugar tits' to the pop culture vernacular. He issued a few mea culpas and hoped that we'd all forget about his outburst. About the same time he separated from his wife (and mother of his seven kids), eventually divorcing three years later.

Coincidentally, this was about the same time that Mel revealed that he'd impregnated his Russian pianist girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva with baby number eight - setting a fine example to Catholics all over the world about adultery and wedlock. To no-one's great surprise, the happy couple had split up within six months of the baby's birth - leaving most fans to speculate that, at best, this ill-advised dalliance would cost Mel some hefty child maintenance.

Oksana might have been stupid enough to enter into a relationship with Mel in the first place, but at least she was smart enough to protect her interests. Knowing full well that a man of Mel's resources would assemble a crack legal team to pick apart any unsubstantiated claims, she bought herself a tape recorder when the cracks began to show.

And what cracks. It turns out that Gibbo has a ugly side that would make Bernard Manning spin in his ample grave like a rotisserie chicken. The recently released tapes show Mel unleashing a torrent of hateful, racist and borderline surreal abuse at the mother of his youngest child.

He even responds to Oksana's question "What kind of man is that who would hit a woman when she is holding a child in her hands, hitting her twice in the face?" with "You know what, you fucking deserved it." Bet that isn't in the deleted scenes of 'What Women Want'.

This would ordinarily be one of those times when the great and the good would rally around to support their friends. So it's pretty telling that days before the tapes went public, Mel was dropped by his agency William Morris Endeavor Entertainment.

Nothing says 'guilty' like a management team that can't be bothered to defend their client, which means that this is one battle Mad Mel is gonna have to fight alone.

His Air America co-star Robert Downey Jr managed to battle his own demons and emerge from the ashes as one of Hollywood's favourite leading men. But at least most of the damage he caused was self-inflicted. After this latest debacle, I doubt whether Braveheart has what it takes to rally the troops again.

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