Mel Gibson is back. Sort of. After a very rocky 2010, with his personal life spilling in to an ugly mess all over the tabloids, it pretty much seemed like the actor/director’s career had tanked. However, it seems that over time, the public, once astonished at the things that came out of Gibson’s mouth, are now ready to forgive him. Or least see what he has to offer. “The Beaver” has been getting pretty good reviews, and when it hits theaters on May 20th it will be interesting to see how audiences react. But Gibson is plowing ahead. In an interview with journalist Allison Hope Weiner, given as an exclusive to Deadline, the actor talks about everything in a fairly no-holds-barred interview, but for us, what’s most interesting is what he’s plotting next.
While Gibson is ready to stop acting entirely if it turns out the public has cooled on him for good, he says he’s already lined up his next role. “I’ve already pulled another job and it’s going to be fun. I don’t know if it’s going to get off the ground, but I’m going to go work for [Best Picture Oscar winner and “Braveheart” screenwriter] Randy Wallace again,” he said. “He’s got this script and he’s had it for years. He wrote some book and he’s adapted it to a script. And it’s almost like Alexander Dumas — like that swashbuckler kind of stuff.”
We did some digging to try and figure out what this project is, and we have a feeling it’s “Love And Honor.” It was published way back in 2004, and was greenlit for a film by Disney at the time, but obviously that never wound up happening. The tale is a big, patriotic adventure which seems right in the Wallace and Gibson wheelhouse.
The Amazon page for the work describes the story as a “tale of swashbuckling and derring-do set in late-eighteenth-century Russia. In 1774, the British already realize that they are going to be in trouble if their American colonies revolt and have asked Catherine the Great, czarina of Russia, for 20,000 soldiers to assist in stamping out any resistance in America. In response to this threat to independence, Virginian cavalryman Kieran Selkirk is recruited by crafty spymaster Benjamin Franklin to travel to Russia posing as a British mercenary. Once in St. Petersburg, the plan is for him to offer his services to Catherine in her fight against the rebellious Cossacks, thus gaining her favor (it doesn’t hurt that Selkirk is young and handsome—sure to draw the czarina’s notoriously lusty attentions) and convincing her not to send the soldiers.”
But if you think Gibson is going to lead the charge in the movie, guess again, as he says, “I’m not the main guy in the film — which is great.” Moreover, there has been recent movement on the project. Last fall, Channing Tatum attached himself to the film while an offer was sent out to Anne Hathaway (though we presume she has since moved on). And while it might seem like a very furrowed-brow drama, as described by Gibson the tone is a bit different than that.
“It’s total bodice-ripping swashbuckling stuff, but it’s funny,” he said. “It’s funny and yet it’s got really good, serious undertones too. Randy writes a decent script. And I responded to it right away. I thought this is hilarious.”
All that said, while we do think this is the project in question, this could still be a way off just yet. Tatum has got “21 Jump Street” this spring, then he’ll follow with “G.I. Joe 2,” so we’d guess this can’t roll in front of cameras until late 2011 or early 2012 at least. And then there is the whole question: has the industry forgiven him? Concerns from the cast of “The Hangover 2” trounced his cameo out of that film, but given more time, attitudes may soften. And with Gibson now speaking, selectively, to the press, could this mean a full blown press apology tour in the run-up to “The Beaver”? We wouldn’t be surprised.