The Hollywood Reporter is continuing to release excerpts from the upcoming Sherry Lansing biography, Leading Lady, which will be released next week. Sherry was the head of Paramount when Mel Gibson made Braveheart. And yesterday THR published the part from the book about the studio’s negotiations with Mel over the budget. In short, what Paramount was initially offering came in under what Mel was expecting he would need to shoot the film, including those epic battle scenes. So, during a meeting with Paramount, when he was told how much money they were willing to put up, Mel went nuclear, as Mel does:
Gibson was furious. "He grabbed a large glass ashtray and threw it through the wall,” recalls agent Jeff Berg. “He threw the ashtray through the wall!"
The actor-director confirmed the incident. "I was like, 'What the f-ck do you people mean? I turned down three jobs — blah, blah, blah.' I was kind of upset, probably a little over the top. It was all posturing bullsh-t."
A week later, Paramount revised its offer, putting up one-third of the budget and taking a lower distribution fee.
The way I read the anecdote, it’s being told as a success story. Especially the way the piece ends, like this:
Braveheart would go on to win five Oscars, including best picture and best director nods for Gibson.
What they’re saying here is that Mel fought for the film. That, in the end, this was the commitment and the passion that was required to produce an iconic movie.
What I’m saying here is…
HE THREW AN ASHTRAY THROUGH A WALL.
During a business meeting, Mel Gibson became so enraged that he violently launched an object THROUGH A WALL. And you want me to wave it away like, oh, yeah, but Braveheart is suuuuuuuuch a good movie so…
A “posturing” Mel Gibson threw an ashtray through a wall because he wasn’t happy with an offer and not only was he not escorted out of the building, he actually, in the end, got what he wanted.
Obvious question with an obvious answer but let’s ask it anyway: does a woman get away with that? Or does the studio leak it out that she’s an unpredictable hysterical mess and totally unfit to run the production? Let’s take the example of Catherine Hardwicke. Catherine Hardwicke, who directed the first Twilight movie, cried on set one day for 30 seconds. As she told Variety in 2015:
“When I had some tears on “Twilight,” during a storm and we couldn’t film, I went behind a tree in the forest, I cried for like 30 seconds and I came back and finished the day. I had a $150,000-a-day pressure. Most directors scream. We’ve seen videos of it. They yell. They fire people. They don’t come out of their trailer. Some people drink. Some people bring hookers. Everyone reacts to the extra pressure in different ways. Well, I just thought, “I’ll go over there and cry for a second and come back.” Someone saw, and reported it. I’m suddenly labeled “emotional.” And yet, now I’ve learned of two instances of male directors who cried on set and they got a standing ovation, because they were so sensitive. Of course it’s a double standard. Of course it’s gender bias. I’ve never gone over budget, and my movies have made a ton of money. Still, I get labeled whatever code word they want to label me. I’ve had 20 movies since “Thirteen” that I’ve tried to get made. On “Red Riding Hood,” I had to take a 57 percent pay cut right after I created a $400 million movie and a huge franchise.”
Mel Gibson throws an ashtray through a wall and they pay him the money. And then is CELEBRATED for it, even now. Because Braveheart won all those Oscars. So, basically, for anyone reading this story, the takeaway is this: It was worth it for that man to be an asshole.
Yours in gossip,