A new book claims an “upset” Mel Gibson threw a large, glass ashtray through a wall during negotiations for the film, “Braveheart”.
The detailed new book on former Paramount studio head Sherry Lansing describes the incident in detail, revealing Gibson nearly passed on directing and starring in the 1995 Oscar winner.
Gibson, who was 39 years old at the time, now describes that era of his career as “the Bradley Cooper-Leo DiCaprio stage”. The actor was eager to show good judgment with his projects following “Lethal Weapon 3”, according to the new book, Leading Lady by Stephen Galloway.
Eventually, Lansing managed to get Gibson to commit to directing the film after an intense round of negotiations. Gibson had fought for Brad Pitt to star as the Scottish freedom fighter, but after Pitt passed on the role, Gibson agreed to step in.
As budget negotiations got underway, things began heating up, according to Galloway’s book.
Paramount’s head of studio affairs only wanted to give Gibson $15 million of the film’s $70 million budget up front, not nearly enough to film the historical drama’s epic battle scenes, leaving Gibson feeling “disrespected and “undervalued”, according to Galloway.
The actor’s agent, Jeff Berg, recalls, Gibson – who was a smoker – reacted to the news in a dramatic fashion: “He grabbed a large glass ashtray and threw it through the wall. He threw the ashtray through the wall!”
Gibson admits the incident, recalling, “I was like, ‘What the f*** do you people mean? I turned down three jobs — blah, blah, blah.’ I was kind of upset, probably a little over the top. It was all posturing bulls***.”
A week after the ashtray incident, Paramount offered up more of the overall budget to Gibson up front.
Lansing recalls her first visit to the set and when she first realized the potential of Gibson’s vision.
Due to weather, filming locations for the Scottish epic had to be relocated from Scotland to Ireland. Lansing visited the set during production, witnessing 1700 Irish soldiers acting as extras and viewed 20 minutes of footage Gibson had shot.
She remembers, “It was pouring rain, and I was wading through water in these galoshes, wet and cold, but all I could think about was the film,” she says, recalling, “I said, ‘Do you understand how great this is?'”
“Braveheart” would go on to win five Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director.