MOTW: The Many Starring Roles of Mel Gibson

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures
February 8th, 2013

MOTW: The Many Starring Roles of Mel Gibson

Mel Gibson is well-known for his roles in "Lethal Weapon" and "Braveheart," as well as his role in the making and performance of "The Passion of the Christ." Many of his other films have seen Gibson play a variety of different leading roles, ranging from adventurous road warriors to chickens with a brave streak. Gibson regularly finds himself either standing up to outside threats or attempting to understand the minds of friends and foe alike. This dichotomy is one of the things that make his acting so profound. Unlike many actors who find themselves pigeonholed, Gibson regularly manages to emerge from type-cast roles and remind fans exactly why they love his works.

"Mad Max" (1979)

"Mad Max" was arguably the film that catapulted Gibson to success on the silver screen. The post-apocalyptic setting of the film and its sequel has since been emulated many times by films but never fully duplicated. The second film in the set took Max to a different area of the same setting, where he fought both men and the allure of a woman alike, but the first movie defined Gibson as a lone-wolf with a heart of gold for years to come. Max shows both his fierce nature and his kind heart through scene after scene. The movie's relentless pacing makes it an excellent example of the archetypal action film. Younger fans may not remember the iconic classic, but "Mad Max" has an excellent story and a sense of action and adventure that stands the test of time.

"Hamlet" (1990)

Gibson took the lead in one of Shakespeare's iconic classics when he donned the garb of the seemingly mad prince Hamlet. The 1990 film remake of the stage production wasn't as well-received as other versions of the play, but Gibson brought his own rugged charm to a role that had previously been the province of more pompous princes. He was joined by an all-star cast including Glenn Close and Sir Ian Holm, all whom played their roles alongside Gibson's prince with style and finesse, bringing an even stronger sense of meaning and focus to the title character. Whether dealing with the internal strife that tears at him or faking madness within to avenge a fallen father, Gibson's Hamlet inspires viewers with a sense of whimsy and precision not found in many film versions.

"What Women Want" (2000)

Gibson may be known as a ladies' man, but this role set him on the track to love in a completely different fashion. As a fast-lane executive, the main character had little time for the ladies and little skill to match. A freak accident gives him the ability to see into the thoughts of women, and he takes full advantage of it. Gibson is at times funny, sensitive, romantic, and a little chauvinistic in this piece. Gibson creates a well-rounded character with a performance that ensures audiences can't help but fall in love. The movie showcases his versatility and ability to act as a man who isn't always the immediate object of affection for female leads.

"Chicken Run" (2000)

That versatility may not define Rocky, the ambitious rooster in "Chicken Run." Women, or in this case hens, definitely flock to the character. Gibson delivers a stunning performance through voice acting in this animated film. The claymation chicken and his clever cohorts seek only to make a great escape from the yard before they end up baked into pies. Even though the rooster has a cock-of-the-walk attitude, Gibson's portrayal of Rocky is hilarious and heartfelt. The rooster cannot bear to let down those who have placed their faith in him, even though he fears for his own life and future. Rocky shows that everyone has at least two sides to their personality, and Gibson ensures that this message is not lost on the younger audience likely to enjoy animated features.

"Pocahontas" (1995)

"Chicken Run" was not Gibson's first animated feature. He had previously worked with Disney on the reworking of a tale from America's history. "Pocahontas" sees Gibson lend his voice to the role of John Smith, an English soldier who falls in love with the title character. Gibson's portrayal of the historic figure is at turns protective and fierce, with a gentler side only seen occasionally seen in other films. He makes the most of his many vocal roles, imparting a real sense of character with each line. Though the historical accuracy of the Disney film is questionable, the fact remains that it is one of Gibson's greatest works due to the versatility of the character and challenge of acting in an animated film.