Mel Gibson Talks About Overcoming Alcoholism

By Dorri Olds 08/16/16

The controversial actor/director spoke out about his relationship with AA, his troubled past, and his next career moves. 


There’s been a lot of love lost between Hollywood and Mel Gibson ever since his 2006 alcohol-infused anti-Semitic rants and 2010 racial slurs. But it seems the former People magazine “Sexiest Man Alive” has mellowed with age.

In an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald, Gibson talked about The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). “They call it the spiritual path for the psychopath,” he said. “They say there's only three options: you go insane, you die or you quit. That's the harsh reality. I'm an old hand at that.”

He was paraphrasing. The AA saying is: “The alternative to AA is jails, institutions, or death.” But, hey, why quibble? He seems to have gotten the gist of it.

If stress worsens your drinking, he has an excuse. He sure has had loads of it. First there was his 2004 movie, The Passion of the Christ. Although it made mega millions, it also brought ire for offending people of Jewish faith.

Then there was his 2006 rant about Jewish people being responsible for all of the wars in the world. Gibson received three years of probation for that incident and had to attend court-ordered alcohol rehab after he pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor DUI charge. He has admitted to a lifelong problem with alcohol, stating that his drinking began at age 13.

Then, in 2010, he was caught in a phone rant with his then-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva. Aside from a barrage of angry insults spewed at her, Gibson hollered racial slurs. In 2011, he pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor battery charge against Grigorieva. But his public troubles didn’t end there. In 2013, he was pulled over on the same road of his DUI. This time he was sober, but driving without a license. And his sobriety didn’t keep him from yelling at the police officer.

These days, Gibson is attempting a movie comeback. In Blood Father, released last week, Gibson plays an alcoholic, complete with a scene of him sharing at an AA meeting. In September, Hacksaw Ridge, a WWII drama, will premiere at the Venice Film Festival. Hacksaw Ridge is Gibson's first outing as a director since Apocalypto in 2006. 

As his interview with the Herald came to a close, Gibson said, “The answer’s not in a bottle. It’s not in a prescription med or any of that sort of stuff. Some people need to use that stuff. I don’t. But it’s a higher thing. You have to get some kind of philosophical, spiritual level to deal with the knocks.”

When asked if he felt his troubles were behind him, the actor answered, “Hey, we’ve all got troubles, all the time, every day, in some form or another. That’s life. It’s how you deal with them. You can’t let them get to you too much. I have a sense of ease, I think, which is good. Because you’ve got to be good to yourself, right? If you’re not good to yourself, it’s not going to radiate onto anyone else.”

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Dorri Olds is an award-winning writer whose work has appeared in many publications including The New York Times, Marie Claire, Woman’s Day and several book anthologies. Find Dorri on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.