Mel Gibson is reported to be heading home to Australia to shoot WWII dramaHacksaw Ridge with The Amazing Spider-Man’s Andrew Garfieldin the lead role.
It will be the first film the Oscar-winning expat has made in this country since Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome in 1985 and his first ever shot in Australia as a director. Several states are vying to win the production.
Hacksaw Ridge is based on the true story of medic and war hero Desmond Doss, a Seventh Day Adventist who refused to bear arms on religious grounds.
The Private First Class was the first conscientious objector in US history to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor after saving the lives of 75 men during the Battle of Okinawa, where he helped evacuate the wounded near enemy lines and braved fire while tending to soldiers on the field.
The screenplay, by Robert Schenkkan and Braveheart’s Randall Wallace, appears to be an exceptionally good fit for Gibson, who has been drawn to the stories of men who are prepared to suffer for their principles throughout his almost four decade-long career.
Last seen on screen in The Expendables 3 (2014), Gibson has directed four previous films, including 2004’s controversial The Passion of the Christ.
But he hasn’t helmed a project since Apocalypto (2006).
Gibson’s long and successful Hollywood career came to an abrupt halt in 2006 when he hurled anti-Semitic abuse at a police officer who pulled him over for speeding. An open bottle of tequila was found in the car and his blood-alcohol level exceeded the legal limit.
Four years later, having separated from his wife of 26 years, Gibson became embroiled in a very public battle with Russian beauty Oksana Grigorieva, who accused him of breaking her front teeth.
While the decision to shoot Hacksaw Ridge in Australia is likely to be a primarily business-minded one, the country’s distance from Hollywood must have been an added incentive.
Gibson is clearly hoping that the move will give him enough elbow room to rehabilitate himself, creatively speaking at least.
Several states are still vying for the right to host the September production which has a reported budget of $US45 million.
Hacksaw Ridge will be produced by Icon’s Bruce Davey, Gibson’s business partner, and Bill Mechanic, who recently shot fantasy/adventure The Moon and the Sun, with Pierce Brosnan, in Victoria.
Mechanic’s follow-up project, 2:22, a thriller starring Teresa Palmer and Game of Thrones’ Michiel Huisman, is currently filming at Fox Studios in Sydney.