LOS ANGELES – Mel Gibson said in an interview his anti-Semitic tirade last summer may have been set off by criticism of his 2004 movie "The Passion of the Christ" even before its release and by Israel's war in Lebanon.
In the interview broadcast Friday on ABC's "Good Morning America," Gibson also said he was "ashamed" by his remarks about Jews after his drunken-driving arrest, explaining that "when you're loaded, you know, the balance of how you see things -- it comes out the wrong way."
The interview with Diane Sawyer, parts of which were broadcast Thursday, was the first time Gibson has spoken to the media since sparking a storm after his July arrest. Gibson told the arresting officer: "The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world," and asked him, "Are you a Jew?"
"Let me be real clear here, in sobriety, sitting here in front of you on national television," Gibson told Sawyer, "I don't believe that Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world. I mean, that's an outrageous, drunken statement."
He said his words may have come from resentment following criticism he received before the release of "The Passion of the Christ."
"Now even before anyone saw a frame of film, for an entire year, I was subjected to a pretty brutal sort of public beating," he said. "And during the course of that, I think I probably had my rights violated in many different ways as an American, as an artist, as a Christian, just as a human being."
The 50-year-old Gibson said his tirade also may have been triggered by Israel's war in Lebanon. The Middle East has troubled him for a long time.
"I remember thinking when I was 20, man, that place is going to drag us all into the black hole, you know, just the difficulty over there," he said.
Asked by Sawyer what Jews are responsible for, Gibson replied: "What are they responsible for? I think that they're not blameless in the conflict. There's been aggression and retaliation and aggression. It's just part of being in conflict, and being at war. So, they're not blameless."
But, he added: "Now when you're loaded, you know, the balance of how you see things -- it comes out the wrong way. I know that it's not as black and white as that. I know that you just can't, you know, roar about things like that. That it's wrong," he said.
Gibson pleaded no contest to charges of drunken driving on Aug. 17 under a deal in which he will serve three years' probation, pay a fine and attend alcohol rehabilitation classes. He also volunteered to make a public-service announcement about the hazards of drinking and driving.
Gibson, who has been undergoing alcohol rehabilitation since his arrest, said he's "quite ashamed" of his behavior.
"I don't want to disappoint anyone again," he said.