Mel Gibson momentarily lost his cool during budget talks for his 1995 film Braveheart — and even the famed actor and director admits his actions may have been “a little over the top.”
According to a new excerpt from Leading Lady: Sherry Lansing and the Making of a Hollywood Groundbreaker in The Hollywood Reporter, Gibson hurled a glass ashtray through a wall when money negotiations weren’t going well for the film that went on to win five Oscars.
After securing two-thirds of the film’s $65-$70 million budget from 20th Century Fox, Gibson reportedly met with Paramount Pictures over breakfast. However, the studio’s head of business affairs, Bill Bernstein, only offered to pony up $15 million — reportedly not enough to cover the movie’s iconic battle scenes — in addition to requesting a quarter of the film’s theatrical revenue. The offer infuriated the actor-director, prompting him to throw the ashtray.
“I was like, ‘What the f— do you people mean? I turned down three jobs — blah, blah, blah,’ ” Gibson recalled of the incident, according to the excerpt. “I was kind of upset, probably a little over the top. It was all posturing bulls—.”
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Paramount revised its offer days later, putting up the remaining one-third of the budget and taking a lower distribution fee.
The excerpt also revealed that Gibson, 61, was hesitant to star in the blockbuster. Gibson, in his 30s or the “Bradley Cooper–Leo DiCaprio stage” at the time, was being highly selective about his roles.
Eventually, he agreed to the direct the film and stepped into the role of Scottish rebel William Wallace — but not until after Brad Pitt was considered for the part.
Gibson’s instincts in taking the job and fighting for a higher budget paid off to the tune of 10 Oscar nominations, including a Best Picture and Best Director win for the actor-director. Braveheart was also a smash success at the box office, raking in over $210 million worldwide, according to BoxOfficeMojo.com.
Leading Lady, by Stephen Galloway, will be released April 25 and is available for preorder now.