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Mel Gibson

Real Name: Mel Columcille Gerard Gibson
Birthday: January 3, 1956
Place of Birth: Peekskill, NY
Education: National Institute of Dramatic Art, Sydney, Australia

Though introduced to US audiences as an Australian actor, the strikingly handsome, blue-eyed Gibson was actually born in New York state and emigrated to Australia in 1968. He made a name for himself in the leather-clad title role of George Miller's Mad Max, as the post-apocalyptic action hero, and in Tim (both 1979), playing a retarded handyman in love with Piper Laurie.
Gibson became a bankable star in Australia after starring in Peter Weir's war drama, Gallipoli, and The Road Warrior (both 1981), Miller's transcendent follow-up to Mad Max. The latter, hailed as an action classic, was an international hit in 1982 and made Gibson a rising star.

Gibson reteamed with Weir for The Year of Living Dangerously (1983). As an Australian reporter who is forced to confront the political upheavals in 1960s Indonesia, Gibson exuded charm, intelligence and, more importantly, sex appeal in his first film as a romantic lead.

He made a less auspicious American feature debut, however, as a reluctantly mutinous Fletcher Christian opposite Anthony Hopkins' Captain Bligh in The Bounty (1984) and appeared in two more films that year. He returned to Australia to wrap up the Mad Max series with Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985), a cumbersome satire with less action, a bigger budget, Tina Turner and Max, mostly on foot, looking like a wandering prophet.

After taking two years off, Gibson returned with Lethal Weapon (1987) playing one of his most popular characters, Martin Riggs, an explosive homicide cop paired with the long-suffering Danny Glover. The film propelled Gibson to superstardom and spawned two sequels, in which he created an unusually rich characterization for a modern action hero.

He then made a surprising career move with his portrayal of the melancholy Dane in Franco Zeffirelli's Hamlet (1990). While the film was problematic, Gibson turned in a finely rendered portrait of the famed prince. This was the first film produced by his ICON Productions. After continuing in a more sentimental vein with the sudsy Forever Young (1992), he made his directorial debut with The Man Without a Face (1993), a drama in which he played a burn victim.

After this mildly popular effort, Gibson returned to rowdy commercial fare with Maverick (1994), an adaptation of the '60s TV western-comedy series, which shrewdly parlayed his dashing rogue qualities into solid box-office success.

Gibson returned to the director's chair for Braveheart (1995), a project far bigger than any with which he had been previously involved in any capacity. Clad in a kilt, sporting blue war paint and wielding abig sword, Gibson starred as Sir William Wallace, a 13th-century Scottish nobleman persecuted for his efforts to free Scotland from English rule. Wags dubbed the film "Mad Mac."

Later that same year, in addition to providing the speaking voice for John Smith in Disney's Pocahontas, Gibson also made his screen singing debut. Aside from making Gibson vehicles, his ICON Productions has also produced other projects including the Beethoven biopic Immortal Beloved (1994) a Michael Mann-directed cop film that delighted critics.

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