Film Reviews

Icon

Page 5 of 5

"Sigourney said that?" Gibson says. As I read the quotation to him, Gibson puts his hands over his face. Now he's peeking out hesitantly from between two fingers. "Well...that's nice of her," he says at last. "Of course, what she might've been seeing was insecurity. Maybe when I was younger I was a little less adventurous about certain things, about how far to push 'em. I used to err on the subtle side."

In that case, do exaggerated, slightly flamboyant characters like Marty Rigg, William Wallace, and MacKussic, the genial drug dealer with the heart of gold from Tequila Sunrise, represent the sort of parts Gibson feels more comfortable with? Does he ever miss the earlier phase of his career, when he was asked to do more with less in films like Gallipoli and Mrs. Soffel and The River?

And does he ever see himself doing a Harvey Keitel--taking cameos as eccentric minor characters in Hollywood movies and doing hardcore, from-the-gut method acting in low-budget independent pictures?

"Maybe, yeah," he says. He says if he's intrigued by the prospect, it's because it would allow him to take some time off from the stress of making movies--especially with films as expensive and involved as Braveheart. His company, Icon Productions, has made eight films in four years. "It might be nice to do something smaller," he says. But he doesn't sound so sure, and he's not eager to elaborate.

But when the subject is movie narrative, Gibson will talk your ear off. He has detailed philosophies about how to shoot a nonconfusing battle scene ("You always wanna make sure the audience knows who's who, otherwise it's like you're at a sporting event and both teams are wearing the same color jerseys") and the importance of humor even in grim scenes ("If this movie didn't have some funny bits, it'd be unbearable--the audience would fuckin' hang itself"). He's a meat-and-potatoes filmmaker. The approach mirrors his view of what constitutes effective acting. He likes his stories and emotions simple but big, he likes to play to the balcony, and he likes the good guys to win. If he ever plans to branch out and try something obscure or experimental, it won't be for a while. For now, he wants to make entertaining stories.

"Some of 'em are gonna be good and some of 'em might be shitty," he says. "But that's the way it goes. Either way, they're a part of the history of the medium. Film is our inherited culture. It's my culture. It was my mother's culture. That's how we express ourselves and see ourselves. We don't paint. We go to shows and do public dreaming. It's populist, but it's great.

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Matt Zoller Seitz