Mel Gibson‘s team was quick to shut down an interview when the conversation turned toward the Will Smith/Chris Rock Oscars incident. When asked if he would have been treated similarly to Smith had he perpetrated the now infamous slap, Gibson’s handler cut the interview short by suddenly claiming they were out of time.
In an interview with Fox News Jesse Watters, the highly controversial director and actor was asked by Watters, “I was wondering if, you know, you had been the one that jumped up out of his seat and slapped Chris Rock, if you would have been treated the same way, Mel?”
Gibson remained silent but began shaking his finger, appearing almost as if he was bursting at the seams to share his thoughts on the incident, which has dominated all media in the days since last Sunday’s Oscar ceremony. The Lethal Weapon star grinned, then appeared to restrain himself and silently waved the question off, just as a member of his team, offscreen but on mic, informed Watters that the interview was now concluded.
“Hello, Jesse? Uhm, Thank you. That’s our time,” said Gibson’s rep, which elicited a short laugh but no further response from Gibson. Watters attempted to carry on. “Have you ever thought about that?” he asked. Gibson remained smiling though silent, staring down into his lap as the offscreen voice continued “Uhm, I’m — thank you, Jesse. Uh, we — that is our time.” Gibson then gave a goodbye wave, indicating the interview had indeed concluded.
Despite Gibson’s lack of comment on the matter, his name has come up many times on social media in relation to the slap heard around the world. Following Smith’s voluntary resignation from the Academy (pending any further repercussions from the institution), many have wondered why Gibson, who has been beleaguered by accusations of bad behavior in the past, has never been censured or expelled himself.
Controversy has followed Gibson for decades in the wake of his inflammatory statements and behavior. His career was almost completely derailed most famously following reports of an anti-Semitic tirade following a 2006 DUI arrest, before he hit another nadir when a recording of a phone call made to Oksana Grigorieva surfaced.
The tape featured Gibson using a racial slur and stating that Grigorieva, his partner at the time and the mother of his daughter, would be herself to blame if she were ever to be raped. The tape was instrumental in Grigorieva receiving a violence-related restraining order, while he was investigated for domestic violence and later pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor battery charge.
Gibson was virtually blacklisted for a number of years he eventually returned to Hollywood’s good graces, earning multiple Academy Award nominations for 2016 war movie Hacksaw Ridge.
Many see Gibson’s fall and rise and return to fame as evidence of Hollywood and the Academy’s hypocrisy when it comes to consequences, while many have suggested that the scrutiny Smith has found himself under would never be applied to a white actor of similar A-list status.
In the wake of his behavior at the Oscars, Smith has had several projects put on ice. Netflix has shelved the actor’s action movie Fast and Loose, while Bad Boys 4 is reported to have been put on hold. The Apple Plus slave drama Emancipation, though completed, also seems as if it may be delayed at the very least.
Only time will tell if Smith will be allowed back into the good graces of the organization, or if Gibson’s arguably far more egregious behavior will ever result in his own censure or expulsion from the almost century-old Academy.