Mel Gibson, Warner Bros. developing Jewish hero epic


LOS ANGELES — Mel Gibson, the Oscar winner who has
defended himself against accusations of anti-Semitism, is developing a
film for Warner Bros. about the life of Judah Maccabee, the warrior
whose ancient victory is celebrated by Hanukkah.

Gibson’s Icon Productions has
closed the producing deal with Warner Bros., and Joe Eszterhas will
write the screenplay. Gibson’s camp said the filmmaker will decide if
he’s directing after the script is done and that he has not ruled out
the possibility that he could act in the film.

his four brothers and his father led the Jewish revolt against the
Greek-Syrian armies. The role of his father, the priest Mattathias,
might be a logical one for the 55-year-old Gibson if he does opt to
appear in the film.

Maccabee is a figure who has
fascinated Gibson for years, and at one point he considered this as a
follow-up project to “The Passion of the Christ” in 2004. Gibson’s camp
describes the film in terms that resonate with past Gibson projects,
such as “Braveheart” or Roland Emmerich’s “The Patriot.”

and religion are career cornerstones for Gibson the filmmaker. He
wrote, produced and directed “The Passion of the Christ,” which became a
global sensation and, with $612 million in worldwide box office, stands
as the highest-grossing R-rated film of all time. The movie also set
off an intense international debate as viewers walked away from the
movie with very different messages.

Gibson’s views
on religion and politics made him a firebrand figure, but his standing
in Hollywood was shaken by more personal controversy. A DUI arrest in
the summer of 2006 became a life-changing calamity after anti-Semitic
remarks he made while in custody were reported across the planet. Gibson
apologized and called it “a moment of insanity” and a “public
humiliation on a global scale.”

Last summer, tapes
of an enraged Gibson berating his girlfriend were made public, and the
star’s racist, violent and misogynistic comments made many observers
predict his career as a bankable Hollywood player was over. Gibson later
said it was “one terribly awful moment in time, said to one person, in
the span of one day,” and something that “doesn’t represent what I truly
believe or how I’ve treated people my entire life.”

best known for fare such as “Basic Instinct” and “Showgirls,” is an
intriguing collaborator for Gibson. The screenwriter was awarded the
Emanuel Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 1995 for his writings
about the Holocaust in Hungary and two of his projects, “Betrayed” and
“Music Box,” speak to Jewish themes.


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