Actor Mel Gibson has gone from an Aussie action star to director to controversy machine. In fact, it's hard to say what he is best known for anymore. You may be surprised to learn that Mel Columcille Gerard Gibson, who calls Australia his home, was actually born in Peekskill, New York (on January 3, 1956.) His family, which includes ten brothers and sisters relocated to Sydney when Mel was 12. With dreams of being an actor since his youth, Mel attended the University of New South Wales (where he roomed with actor Geoffrey Rush) and performed at the National Institute of Dramatic Arts.
After completing his studies, Mel began to get work in Australian television and film and landed his breakthrough role as a leather-clad post-apocalyptic warrior in 1979's Mad Max, a film for which Mel was paid a mere $15,000. The low budget action film went on to earn over $100 million worldwide and made Mel a star. He reprised the character for Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior in 1981. Mel made his U.S. film debut in 1984's The Bounty and the next year he strapped on the leather gear one more time, starring opposite Tina Turner in the big-budget Mad Max 3: Beyond Thunderdome.
The actor created his most enduring role in 1987, where he played 'Martin Riggs,' a Three Stooges-loving cop with a death wish in the buddy action flick Lethal Weapon, co-starring Danny Glover as his long-suffering partner. The film was a commercial smash and spawned three sequels. In the early '90s, everything Mel touched seemed to turn to gold, such as Bird on a Wire with Goldie Hawn, Air America with Robert Downey Jr. and Maverick with Jodie Foster. In 1995, Mel did double duty - sitting in the director's chair and taking on the role of Scottish hero 'William Wallace' in the epic drama Braveheart, which earned five Oscars including Best Director and Best Picture. More hits followed, including 2000's colonial era drama The Patriot, the romantic comedy What Women Want and the animated comedy Chicken Run, wherein Mel lent his voice to a feisty rooster named 'Rocky.' In 2004, Mel again took on directing duties for the controversial film The Passion of the Christ. The actor co-wrote the screenplay and financed the film, which chronicled the last days of Jesus' life, himself. The film was met with mixed reviews and Mel was accused of giving the film an anti-semitic slant.
The actor made headlines in July of 2006 when he was arrested for DUI and during the arrest made anti-semitic and sexist remarks to the arresting officers. He later apologized for his 'despicable' behavior and was sentenced to three years probation. Mel again courted controversy with his next directorial effort Apocalypto (2006). The film, which focused on the decline of the Mayan empire, angered some Mayan people, who called the film 'racist.' Despite these problems, Mel remains both a devoted family man - he and wife Robyn Moore have been married since 1980 and have seven children and one grandchild. No matter what he is up to, Mel remains the object of our attention.
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