How did Gibson land such a big job with a major studio? Mock the power of the Oscars at your own peril—the Best Director nod for Hacksaw Ridge was the clearest sign that, for many in the industry, the dust had settled on Gibson’s past and he was welcomed back into the fold. Aside from the awards attention the film garnered, Hacksaw Ridge was also a kind of institutional stepping stone for Gibson on his way to larger projects. The movie was distributed by Summit Entertainment, a subsidiary of Lionsgate (which is smaller than the traditional “big six” studios but bigger than indie distributors). Summit had also distributed Jodie Foster’s The Beaver, a minor 2011 film that was one of Gibson’s only major recent acting roles (Foster passionately defended Gibson’s casting then and stuck up for him again in 2016).
After Hacksaw Ridge’s Oscar nominations, Warner Bros. came knocking, first trying to hire Gibson last year for the comic-book sequel Suicide Squad 2, and then announcing this week that he’d write and direct a remake of The Wild Bunch, which will begin shooting next spring. Gibson has been making his mark in Hollywood in other smaller ways, too: In addition to The Beaver, he filmed a supporting role in Daddy’s Home 2 in 2017, has indie movies such as Dragged Across Concrete and The Professor and the Madman on deck, and is also prepping a war thriller called Destroyer as a potential directing project.
When rehabilitating one’s reputation and celebrity, a huge factor is, of course, time. The shocking revelations of Gibson’s behavior are currently several years old. Gibson himself appears to understand the effectiveness of framing his actions as part of the distant past, thus downplaying their continued relevance. Though he did express regret over the content of his taped conversation with Grigorieva in a 2011 interview, he also treated it as an isolated incident, as “one terribly awful moment in time,” and referred to Grigorieva’s secret recording of him as a “personal betrayal.” As Gibson later put it to Colbert, “Ten years go by, I worked a lot on myself, I’m actually happier and healthier than I’ve been in a long time. So that’s cool.”
As Gibson has worked to fully restart his career, he has also—like many celebrities—praised the #MeToo movement. Last November, he called #MeToo “a precursor to change,” saying of the sexual-assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein, “Things got shaken up a little bit and there is a lot of light being thrown into places where there were shadows, and that is kind of healthy.” But the heightened sensitivity in the industry toward allegations of abuse seems to have spared Gibson. In January, Grigorieva claimed in a court filing that she was experiencing post-traumatic stress because of the violence she suffered during their relationship. Gibson pleaded no contest in 2011 to a misdemeanor count of domestic violence in 2010 and was sentenced to three years’ probation, counseling, and community service; he claimed at the time that he had slapped Grigorieva to stop her from shaking their baby.