Since the movie industry seems perfectly willing to forgive all sins when it comes to Mel Gibson, it can be fun to look back and remember a time when he wasn’t the kind and sensitive soul that Hollywood seems to believe he is these days. Case in point: The Hollywood Reporter has shared a story from features editor Stephen Galloway’s Leading Lady, a biography of studio exec Sherry Lansing, that involves Gibson flipping out when budget negotiations for Braveheart didn’t go his way in the early ’90s.
Lansing was heading up Paramount at the time, and after convincing Gibson to direct and star, he went on to meet with the studio’s head of business affairs to sketch out a budget. 20th Century Fox had agreed to pay for two-thirds of the film, but Paramount wasn’t willing to pay the final third that Gibson wanted. Furious, Gibson then “grabbed a large glass ashtray and threw it through the wall,” meaning that he threw a physical object so hard that it hit a wall and then kept going, which is a perfectly reasonable thing for an adult to do.
To his credit, Gibson apparently confirmed that the incident happened and agreed that it was “probably a little over the top,” but he dismisses it as “posturing bullshit.” In any other context, it would be wildly unprofessional and horrifying, but since Gibson was a handsome movie star at the time who—as far as anyone knew—had not gone on any offensive rants, Paramount came back a week later and gave Gibson the budget he wanted. Braveheart went on to win a bunch of awards, and now the story about the time Mel Gibson got so angry in a meeting that he threw an ashtray through a wall is just another hilarious Hollywood anecdote about one of the movie world’s favorite goofballs.