After a decade-long hiatus, Mel Gibson has solidified his Hollywood comeback with his first Oscar nomination in twenty-one years.
Hacksaw Ridge nabbed Gibson a nod for best director, his first nomination since he won best director and best picture for Braveheart in 1996. The film was honored with nominations throughout award season, including a best director Golden Globe, and a best actor mention at the same show for Andrew Garfield, who stars in the World War II drama.
The film marks the 60-year-old actor’s first directorial effort since 2006’s Apocalypto, and with three Golden Globes nominations under its belt, the drama is continuing to garner the Oscar buzz.
The film follows the true tale of Virginia farm boy-turned-army medic Desmond Doss, played by Garfield, who was credited with saving dozens of soldiers during the Battle of Okinawa despite refusing to carry a weapon or kill his enemies.
“He was the first conscientious objector to be given the Medal of Honor,” Gibson explained in an interview at the Sydney Film Festival in June. “He never fired a gun. He was criticized by his peers, the army tried everything to kick him out, and he endured that because he wanted to serve as a combat medic in the worst place on earth.”
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The strongly religious Doss voluntarily enlisted but faced backlash for his refusal to go against his beliefs. Instead of taking lives during the war, he was intent on saving them.
“Most Medal of Honor winners do something insanely courageous in an instant,” Gibson said. “But he did it over and over again over the course of months. He really didn’t care about his own life.”
The film, shot in Australia last year, is expected to be Gibson’s comeback, but the director already has more movies in mind.
“I’ve been developing one thing for over 10 years, set back in the 15th century of Italy,” he said. “It has all the trappings of a Jacobean tragedy, and I want to make it like that, even to the point of soliloquies and stuff.”
Gibson has acted in various films during his directorial hiatus, including The Expendables 3 in 2014 and Machete Kills in 2013. He is also set to star alongside Sean Penn in the upcoming film The Professor and the Madman.
The Academy Awards, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, kicks off live on ABC on Sunday, Feb. 26, with a 7 p.m. ET pre-show and 8:30 p.m. ceremony. See all the Oscar nominees and get your own ballot here!