Mel Gibson Talks About Quitting, Cozies Up to HFPA

Controversial star plays the victim in one interview, schedules session with the always-friendly Hollywood Foreign Press

Last Updated: April 22, 2011 @ 12:02 PM

For Mel Gibson, it's time to talk … a little.

With the Jodie Foster-directed drama "The Beaver" hitting theaters on May 6, the star, whose career may have been badly damaged by the release of virulent voicemail messages left for his former girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva, is cautiously facing the media.

Jodie Foster and Mel GibsonA "20/20" segment is reportedly in the works. Gibson gave an interview to journalist Allison Hope Weiner, which ran at Deadline on Friday, in which he talked about quitting acting ("I could easily not act again"), called his tirades "one terribly, awful moment in time" and responded to the notably sympathetic interviewer by playing the victim a few times.

And next week, he's scheduled a sit-down (alongside co-star/director Jodie Foster and co-star Anton Yelchin) with a group of what Robert De Niro called "the [people] who pose for pictures with the movie stars": the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

Sure, the HFPA may be a laughingstock in many circles — ridiculed for their choices, criticized for being star-chasers and "bottom feeders," ensnared in lawsuits and embroiled in controversies and allegations of payola and kickbacks around their awards show, the Golden Globes.

But at a screening of "The Beaver" on Thursday night in Beverly Hills, the HFPA was out in force (including its president, Philip Berk), and its members were told that their Tuesday session with Gibson was the only upcoming press commitment that the controversial star had agreed to do.

Gibson's publicist, Alan Nierob, declined to comment on whether Gibson would do any interviews beyond the HFPA. But it appears that if we want to hear somebody grill him on those racist, anti-Semitic and physically threatening voicemails, we'll have to rely on a motley group of 80-odd correspondents, freelancers and part-timers for foreign publications.

"They nominate him all the time, plus he intimidates them," explained one publicist who often deals with the HFPA.

Gibson received Golden Globe nominations for acting in "Ransom" and "What Women Want," both of which were ignored by the Academy, and won for directing "Braveheart" (for which he also won an Oscar). His film "Apocalypto" landed a Globe nomination for Best Foreign Language Film.

So don't expect tough questions from an organization legendary for the fervor with which they attack buffets and queue up to have their pictures taken with the stars.

Then again, I guess you never know.

And if Gibson finds himself shunned by the Academy but honored with a Golden Globe nomination next year … well, we might as well consider that a thank you for next Tuesday.   

"The Beaver," by the way, has received largely favorable reviews since it debuted at SXSW in March, and Gibson has been praised for his performance as an executive who finds an unusual way to battle mental illness and crippling depression.

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