Is Mel Gibson Being Targeted for his Beliefs?
Friday, January 17, 2003

This is a partial transcript from The O'Reilly Factor, January 14, 2003. Click here to order the complete transcript.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the Personal Story segment tonight: The actor Mel Gibson has been in Italy for months shooting a controversial film that graphically depicts the execution of Jesus. The movie is being financed by Gibson's production company. It's being shot in Aramaic and Latin, the languages used at the time.

Mr. Gibson is a religious man and believes there are some in the media who want to discredit him personally because he's making a pro-Christian film. And, indeed, The Factor has learned that there is a print reporter trying to dig up nasty personal dirt on Gibson. And the guy has even approached his 85-year-old father under questionable circumstances.

And, in the interest of full disclosure, Mel Gibson's production company has optioned my novel, Those Who Trespass. So, I do have a working relationship with him. But I believe this situation is troubling.

I spoke with Mel Gibson yesterday from Rome.


O'REILLY: Mr. Gibson, I understand the movie you're shooting right now about the death of Jesus of Nazareth is pretty graphic, pretty explicit.


I've never seen a rendering that equals this for reality. The versions I've seen either suffer from bad hair, inaccurate history, or not just being real. And somehow, because of that, I think I think you're distanced from them somehow. They're more like fairy tales. And this actually happened. It occurred. I'm exploring it this way, I think, to show the extent of the sacrifice willingly taken.

O'REILLY: You're going to make it in Aramaic and Latin, all right, so that no one is going to even understand what's said. The images are going to be explicit and powerful. What is the point?

GIBSON: Well, the point is that I think you can transcend language with the message through image. And I'm very happy with what we're getting.

O'REILLY: Is it going to upset some people to see the person they believe is God brutalized in this manner?

GIBSON: Well, I think anybody that is in the know about Jesus as God and they believe in that realize that he was brutalized and that I'm exploring it this way, I think, to show the extent of the sacrifice willingly taken. I think it's going to be hard to take, but I don't necessarily know that people are going to be upset by it.

O'REILLY: Is it going to upset any Jewish people?

GIBSON: It may. It's not meant to.

I think it's meant to just tell the truth. I want to be as truthful as possible. But, when you look at the reasons behind why Christ came, why he was crucified, he died for all mankind and he suffered for all mankind, so that, really, anybody who transgresses has to look at their own part or look at their own culpability.

It's time to sort of get back to a basic message, the message that was given. At this time, the world has gone nuts, I think. Christ spoke of faith, hope, love and forgiveness. And these are things I think we need to be reminded of again. He forgave as he was tortured and killed. And we could do with a little of that behavior.

I mentioned what I was going to do to Night Shyamalan. And he thought: "Oh, great. You have the ultimate opportunity to make the perfect anti-date movie."

And I said: "No, no, that's not true at all. I think I refer to it as the career-killer film." And I was only half joking at the time. But it's interesting that, when you do touch this subject, it does have a lot of enemies. And there are people sent. I've seen it happening. Since I've been in Rome here, for example, I know that there are people sent from reputable publications -- they go about, while you're busy over here, they start digging into your private life and sort of getting into your banking affairs and any charities you might be involved in.

And then they start bothering your friends and your business associates and harassing your family, including my 85-year-old father. I find it a little spooky.

O'REILLY: We have heard that there is a reporter trying to dig up dirt on you, and who has bothered your 85-year-old father, trying to get provocative statements from him, and trying to portray you as a fanatic and perhaps a bigot, that this guy is operating right now. He's trying to dig up dirt on Mel Gibson.

And do you believe it's because you're making this movie about Jesus?

GIBSON: I think it is, yes. I think he's been sent. So, that's the way it is. You got to deal with these things. I'm a big boy and I can take care of myself. And you can say what you like about me. I'm a public person, I suppose, although I don't ever remember signing the paper that I said I had no rights to privacy. But you can pick on me. But if you start picking on my family when I'm out of town, get ready.

O'REILLY: But I'm surprised that someone would go after somebody as well-liked as you are and as powerful as you are. And you really believe it's because you're making this movie about Jesus?

GIBSON: Yes, I think so. Yes, I think there's a lot of things that don't want it to happen.

But, hey, as I said before, it's a film that speaks about faith, hope, love, and forgiveness. That's the basic message. And that's what we need to get back to, I think. And if everybody practiced a little more of that, there would be a lot less friction in the world.

O'REILLY: So, if this guy writes something terrible about you and your father and family, you are going to forgive him?

GIBSON: Yes. You've got to. I already did. But it's just perplexing.


O'REILLY: All right, there it is. And we'll let you know if anything gets in print.

Click here to order the complete transcript.

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