Mel Gibson is reportedly developing a film about Jewish warrior Judah Maccabee for Warner Bros. This is quite ironic, since Gibson’s public downfall began after he made a series of anti-Semitic remarks to the officers arresting him for DUI back in 2006. Gibson’s star fell even further when a series of taped phone conversations to his girlfriend were made public, featuring the actor ranting and saying some very controversial things.
However, the idea of Gibson tackling the Maccabee story almost makes sense on some levels. The actor helmed the religious film The Passion of the Christ, which went on to become the highest grossing R-rated film of all time. He’s also demonstrated a keen interest in historical dramas based on his work in films like Braveheart and The Patriot. With that in mind, this new project doesn’t seem like such a stretch -- just poor judgment.
Gibson is shepherding the film through the early stages of production according to The LA Times. Basic Instinct scribe Joe Ezsterhas is working on the script – which tells the tale of Judah Maccabee and his family’s revolt against the Greek-Syrian armies. The victory is celebrated each year at Hanukkah.
Gibson is waiting to see the finished script before deciding how involved he’ll be – he’s likely to direct if the screenplay meets his standards, and hasn’t ruled out acting. Speculation is that he might take on the part of Judah's father, Mattathias.
Making a film celebrating Jewish heroes after having proclaimed that “the Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world” might be viewed by some as an obvious ploy to win back those offended by his anti-Semitic comments. If Mel really wants to rebuild his career, maybe a better option would be something innocuous that people could get behind – like Lethal Weapon 5 or Braveheart 2, where William Wallace comes back from the dead and goes all Jason Voorhees on the English. Doing a film about incredibly important figures from Jewish history seems likely to encourage more controversy than forgiveness.
What do you guys think? Can Gibson resuscitate his career or has the damage he has done to his reputation so been profound that his life as an entertainer essentially over? Weigh in below.