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In his first interview since voice mails of him making threats against his ex-girlfriend were released to the press, Mel Gibson tells Deadline Hollywood he has been unfairly branded as a homophobe and a bigot, and he's never discriminated against anyone.
"I've never treated anyone badly or in a discriminatory way based on their gender, race, religion or sexuality -- period," Gibson says. "I don't blame some people for thinking that, though, from the garbage they heard on those leaked tapes, which have been edited."
The actor also says he doesn't care if he never acts again, saying he's moved past the fear that people might hold his actions against him and not turn out to see his films.
"I could easily not act again," he says. "It's not a problem. I'm going to do something now because I want to do it and because it's fun."
The allegations of abuse and threats on the life of ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva are just the latest in a string of setbacks for the actor turned director.
In 2006, when he was arrested for driving under the influence, he went on a drunken, anti-Semitic rant against his arresting officers. In 1991, Gibson came under fire for an interview he gave to Spanish newspaper El Pais, making antigay jokes about anal sex and rebuffing rumors he might be gay with the statement, "Who might think that with this demeanor I could be gay? Do I talk like them? Do I move like them?"
The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation took Gibson to task for the quote, the first of many times the group would take issue with the actor. In 1993, with the release of his directorial debut The Man Without a Face, he was criticized because his character in the novel -- a gay teacher involved with a 14-year-old student -- was changed in the movie to a presumably straight teacher wrongly accused of child molestation, according to Entertainment Weekly.
The magazine points out the change was made before Gibson signed onto the project.
But GLAAD was up in arms again in 1995 with the release of his film Braveheart, calling its portrayal of British king Edward II a "typical homophobic caricature."
Gibson responded by telling Playboy, "I'll apologize when hell freezes over. They can f--- off."
The actor finally sat down with representatives from the group in 1997 on the set of his film Conspiracy Theory. The conversation, which was attended by then-entertainment media director Chastity Bono, remained under wraps, though Gibson's publicist at the time, Alan Neirob, said it was "a nice dialogue between people who have a lot in common."