Mel Columcille Gerard Gibson, commonly thought of as an Australian, was actually born in Peekskill, N.Y. on Jan. 3, 1956 to parents Hutton and Anne Gibson. Mel was the sixth of 10 kids born to the couple. The Gibsons also adopted one child, bringing the total to 11.
The Gibsons lived in and around the Hudson Valley until 1964, when Hutton Gibson — a brakeman for the New York Central Railroad — suffered a work-related injury, lost his job and entered into litigation with his employer.
With Hutton Gibson out of work, the family lost its farm and moved into a rented home. The elder children took jobs. Eventually, a settlement with Hutton's former employer came through; he also managed to win some money on the game show "Jeopardy!"
The Gibsons then headed to Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, in 1968. The family had roots there, as Anne Gibson's mother was an Australian opera singer who had immigrated to the States. Though the Gibsons moved overseas, Mel always maintained his American citizenship.
In Sydney, Mel Gibson studied acting and the performing arts at NIDA (the National Institute of Dramatic Art) at the University of New South Wales in Sydney.
Hutton Gibson, a devout and strict Catholic, sent his son to St. Leo’s College, where he was reportedly picked on for his American accent. Mel Gibson became rebellious and got into trouble for smoking, fighting and insubordination.
Soon after, the young Gibson met producer Phil Avalon and was cast in the movie “Summer City” in 1976. He then got an agent and a part on Aussie TV’s “The Sullivans.”
In 1980, Gibson married his current wife, Robyn Moore, who is Anglican. The pair has one daughter, Hannah; and six sons, Edward, Christian, Willie, Louis, Milo and Tommy.
In a key career move, Gibson’s agent got him an audition with the producer/director behind "Mad Max."
As the story goes, Gibson got drunk and was beaten up in a bar brawl the night before the audition, and was left with a swollen, black-and-blue face and broken jawline.
Because of his appearance, he didn't expect to be cast, and ended up attending the audition only to support a friend.
The director supposedly told him to come back in two weeks' time because "we need freaks." When Gibson returned, he wasn't recognized, but he won the part.
After the first "Mad Max" installment, Gibson continued with his stage work, starring in several Shakespearean plays. But the cult success of "Mad Max" and its two sequels propelled him to worldwide fame.
In 1984, Gibson made his American film debut in "The Bounty" opposite Anthony Hopkins. There was reportedly some conflict between the actors, partly because Hopkins was a teetotaler while Gibson took to heavy drinking during filming.
Gibson's alleged excesses during this time were said to be the first indications that he was battling alcoholism, which some biographers claim actually began in his teen years.
Gibson went on to win the lead of Martin Riggs in the "Lethal Weapon" franchise, alongside Danny Glover. The films were huge commercial hits, and helped popularize the "buddy action" flick.
"Hamlet" was Gibson's next creative project, where he was paired with serious Shakespearean actors Ian Holm and Alan Bates. The movie was a critical success, and helped to further his reputation as a well-rounded and capable actor.
Gibson's next big success was the blockbuster hit "Braveheart," about Scottish knight Sir William Wallace, which he produced, directed and starred in.
Initially, Gibson rejected the script. But he later changed his mind, and decided to take on the entire project himself. It was a smash commercial and critical success, winning Gibson Oscars for both Best Picture and Best Director.
In 2004, Gibson released the hugely controversial movie, "The Passion of the Christ." It chronicles the last 12 hours of the life of Jesus Christ, and received both praise and criticism.
Because of the subject matter, Gibson was forced to undertake the project almost entirely on his own through his company, Icon Productions.
Some charged that the film was anti-Semitic (fueled by reports that Hutton Gibson was a Holocaust denier), but Gibson rejected such claims. Thanks in part to the intense fervor over the film, it became a box office phenomenon as the highest-grossing R-rated movie of all time, and the eighth-highest-grossing film ever.
Gibson has never shied away from controversy, and has made statements to the press that have, at times, led to accusations of homophobia, anti-Semitism and Anglophobia.
He also has often had harsh things to say about his critics, sometimes cursing and calling them names in uncensored interviews.
Gibson's next project, "Apocalypto," is a massive historical epic chronicling the decline of the Mayan empire. The dialogue is entirely in the Yucatec Maya language, and is cast with unknown actors. Gibson financed the film himself, while Disney has reportedly signed on as a distributor. The highly-anticipated film is set for release in December 2006.
Most recently, Gibson was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving in Malibu, Calif. on July 28, 2006. The police report for the incident was leaked.
According to the report, Gibson was abusive to the officers and made various anti-Semitic comments such "Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world."
He has since issued apologies, including one to the Jewish community in which he denied being an anti-Semite.
The incident has led to a huge amount of media attention, and many of Gibson's celebrity friends have come forward to defend him.
While some have condemned his actions, others have attributed them to his life-long battle with alcoholism.
Gibson has had a history of other incidents involving alcohol and drug abuse, including a 1994 arrest for drunken driving in Toronto.
In 1991, Gibson attended rehab for alcoholism, and in 2004 he admitted in an interview with Diane Sawyer that his addictions have in the past led him to suicidal behavior.
He is now reportedly seeking treatment for alcoholism.
Tree of Life (2008)
Sam and George (2008)
Under and Alone (2006) —William Queen
Paparazzi (2004) —Anger Management Therapy Patient
The Singing Detective (2003)— Dr. Gibbon
Signs (2002) — Rev. Graham Hess
We Were Soldiers (2002) —Lt. Col. Hal Moore
What Women Want (2000) —Nick Marshall
The Patriot (2000) — Benjamin Martin)
Chicken Run (2000) (voice) — Rocky
The Million Dollar Hotel (2000) — Detective Skinner
Payback (1999/I) — Porter
Lethal Weapon 4 (1998) —Martin Riggs
FairyTale: A True Story (1997— Frances' Father
Conspiracy Theory (1997) —Jerry Fletcher
Fathers' Day (1997) (uncredited) — Scott the Body Piercer
Ransom (1996) —Tom Mullen
Pocahontas (1995) (voice) —John Smith
Braveheart (1995) —William Wallace
Maverick (1994) —Bret Maverick, Jr.
The Man Without a Face (1993)— Justin McLeod
The Chili Con Carne Club (1993)— Mel
Forever Young (1992)—Capt. Daniel McCormick
Lethal Weapon 3 (1992) — Martin Riggs
Hamlet (1990/I) — Hamlet
Air America (1990) — Gene Ryack
Bird on a Wire (1990) — Rick Jarmin
Lethal Weapon 2 (1989) — Martin Riggs
Tequila Sunrise (1988) —Dale 'Mac' McKussic
Lethal Weapon (1987) — Sergeant Martin Riggs
Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985) —'Mad' Max Rockatansky
Mrs. Soffel (1984) — Ed Biddle
The River (1984) — Tom Garvey
The Bounty (1984)— Fletcher Christian Master's Mate
The Year of Living Dangerously (1982) —Guy Hamilton
Attack Force Z (1982)—Captain P.G. (Paul) Kelly
Mad Max 2 (1981) — 'Mad' Max Rockatansky/The Road Warrior
Gallipoli (1981) — Frank Dunne
The Chain Reaction (1980) — Bearded mechanic
Tim (1979) —Tim
Mad Max (1979) —'Mad' Max Rockatansky
I Never Promised You a Rose Garden (1977)—Baseball Player
Summer City (1977) —Scollop
"Punishment" (1981) TV Series — Rick Monroe
"The Sullivans" (1976) TV Series —Ray Henderson