Could Mel Gibson, Arrest Expunged From Record, Actually Have A Big Comeback?

by BILLY GRAY · January 20, 2010

When Mel Gibson presented at Sunday's Golden Globes, it made for the show's only suspenseful moment.  But anyone expecting a chorus of boos was surprised by the crowd's friendly response to the star. (Maybe because his DUI arrest kinda disappeared.) But is America ready to welcome back Gibson?

Actually, the public already threw some redemption Gibson's way when it propelled Apocalypto, his 2006 thriller, to a first place opening weekend and a final gross of $50 million. (Keep in mind that the film had no name stars and required subtitles for its Mayan dialogue.) The actor-director's next test comes on January 29th with Edge of Darkness, a more conventional revenge drama. (Its winking tagline: "Sometimes Secrets Take Us To The Edge.")

Will the unwashed masses be as forgiving as the Hollywood heavyweights at the Globes? It's tough to say. Everyone knows that Hollywood loves nothing more than a comeback story. Consider some of the other prominent erstwhile fuck-ups that enjoyed the spotlight on Sunday night. Robert Downey Jr.,  considered a lost cause after spending much of the '90s in a heroin nap, took home the Best Actor prize for Sherlock Holmes. Colin Farrell, victim of the twin curses of Hollywood fame--overexposure and truly Herculean feats of drugs and alcohol consumption--presented. And convicted rapist Mike Tyson pretty much brought the house down when he introduced The Hangover, in which he made a cameo.

Of course, these celebrities had mostly personal demons to purge, self-destruction to reign in. They didn't lash out against an entire religion (during his arrest for drunk driving in the summer of '06, Gibson allegedly said that Jews were responsible for all the world's wars, in case you forgot). And, let's face it, going after Jewish people in Hollywood is kind of like stomping on a Russian flag on the Brighton Beach boardwalk.

We'll have a better idea of Gibson's comeback prospects when Edge of Darkness' opening weekend receipts are announced. It should be noted that many Globes attendees appeared rather tanked themselves, perhaps muting any anger toward and judgment of a man who, as host Ricky Gervais mentioned when introducing Gibson, is (or was) a bit too fond of the hooch.

One man who is not entirely comfortable with Gibson's return to respectability is a KTLA reporter who interviewed the star (after revealing that the DUI arrest record had been expunged from the record).

"Some people are going to welcome you back and some people will say you should never come back," he tells Gibson.


"Because of what happened before."

"What happened before?"

"Because of the remarks that were attributed to you."

"The remarks that were attributed to me. That I didn't necessarily make."

Interesting. I didn't realize that the Gibson incident was still wading in the murky waters of "allegedly" and "attributed to" legalese. But apparently I was wrong. Anyway, the whole video is kind of cringe-inducing, with the actor telling the (Jewish) reporter, "I gather you have a dog in this fight."

Not exactly the way to court good publicity. But maybe Gibson has learned that in the entertainment world, a star's product usually speaks louder than his often regrettable words. If Edge of Darkness is any good, and if it makes Hollywood a pile of cash, expect Gibson to remain on the comeback trail.

In the end, the possibility of Mel Gibson accepting an award from Hollywood is even more intriguing than his giving one.