Braveheart gave Mel Gibson more than a fistful of dollars and another of Oscars he became a national hero in Scotland. As his latest thriller Ransom opens, he tells Eddie Gibb why he has dropped his wild man image.

6 The List 7-20 Feb 1997

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Mel to pay: Gibson as the maverick American businessman whose son is held to ransom


the warrior

el Gibson says exactly what you would expect him to say about his role in Ransom. Ron Happy Days Howard‘s blockbuster about the kidnapping of an airline mogul‘s son: ‘lt‘s every parent‘s worst nightmare‘. But for Gibson. like the character he plays. filling a couple of suitcases with $2 million in exchange for the safe return of his child would not present too much of a problem at least. not financially. Gibson‘s reported fee for the movie represents ten times the kidnappers’ demand.

Ransom is. unsurprisingly. about money: the power money buys and what happens to rich people when they lose that power. In Hollywood terms. Gibson is at the peak of his powers as an actor and director who makes things happen. His presence alone would have been a major contributory factor to Ransom taking more than $34 million in its opening weekend in the US.

Gibson plays Tom Mullen. a dashing air force ace who hung up his flying helment to start an independent airline which. Richard Branson- style. took on the major carriers and carved itself a substantial slice of the market. ln a corporate video which introduces Gibson's character at the start of the film. he turns to camera and says: ‘We didn't want to be the biggest. just the best'. It‘s a neat way of sketching out Mullen as a maverick American hero who has translated his dogfighting skills to the boardroom.

There is. undoubtedly. a lot of Gibson in Mullen; both are wild men who have been tamed by family life. When Gibson was cast in his breakthrough role in the low-budget Australian movie Mad Mar. he reportedly showed up to meet director George Miller with a face still bearing the cuts and bruises of the previous night‘s brawling. Miller decided this was just the kind of beat-up look he wanted from his post-apocalypse road warrior.

Gibson’s career took off swiftly during the 80s. and stories of wild nights and hungover mornings on set followed him closely. During