Mel Gibson readying return to his 'Passion' project

Mel Gibson is quite the culinary sensation.

The actor/director/producer suggests there's one pursuit that has consumed him, keeping him from behind the camera for the last decade. Fine French desserts, it seems, take time. Or so Gibson insists when asked if his directing stint in Hacksaw Ridge (opens Wednesday in New York and Los Angeles; in theaters nationwide Friday) is a comeback.

“I guess,” Gibson agrees, before joking, “but it wasn’t like I wasn’t doing something. I was always busy in some artistic pursuit or another. I was perfecting my flambé.”

Flambé-work complete, Gibson, 60, is showing off his Hacksaw Ridge as a viable awards contender. He's also stepping up other pursuits after being sidelined from Hollywood following a string of high-profile tabloid incidents that began with his infamous 2006 drunk-driving arrest.

Gibson has appeared in his share of films since, including Jodie Foster's The Beaver in 2011 and villainous roles in 2011’s Machete Kills and 2014’s The Expendables 3. 

But the acting work amps up with his upcoming starring role alongside Sean Penn in The Professor and the Madman (expected in 2017), which explains the wild bearded look.

Gibson plays the distinguished editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, James Murray, in the 1800s-era drama. Penn plays the equally facial hair-heavy American surgeon William Chester Minor a prolific contributor to the dictionary.

 

"We look like ZZ Top,” he says. “We’re kind of hairy."

Gibson also confirms plans to move forward with a long-awaited follow-up to 2004’s The Passion of Christ, which he directed, co-wrote and produced. The film depicting the last 12 hours of Jesus Christ (Jim Caviezel) was a major milestone in faith-based filmmaking, earning more $611 million worldwide on a $30 million budget.

Randall Wallace, who collaborated with Gibson on his Oscar-winning Braveheart, is writing the script for the Passion project, which will cover the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Gibson suggests the project won't start filming for at least two years.

“The Resurrection. Big subject. Oh, my God," says Gibson, saying he's still conceptualizing the biblical story. “We’re trying to craft this in a way that’s cinematically compelling and enlightening so that it shines new light, if possible, without creating some weird thing.”

More imminent (but still unscheduled) is TV series The Barbary Coast, which Gibson plans to co-write and direct, as well as appear in a recurring role alongside stars Kate Hudson and Kurt Russell. The project, still in the early stages, will be set in the San Francisco red-light and entertainment district created by the Gold Rush and destroyed by the 1906 earthquake.

Or as Gibson puts its dramatically: "An act of God put an end to it in 1906, just leveled the place. Kabammm."

Between the pending awards campaign for Hacksaw Ridge and new projects, Gibson acknowledges that his stellar kitchen creations will suffer.

“I already cannot cook a steak like I used to,” he says.


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