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
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.