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Mega Mel-tdown

Gibson's big screen roles foretold the crazy

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Mel Gibson's career pretty much ended last week, right about the time two different recorded phone conversations surfaced and revealed the Aussie movie star to be a spectacularly foul-mouthed underwear skid mark of a man. On the recordings, Gibson's heard huffing and puffing his way through expletive laced tirades that tear apart Oksana Grigorieva, the mother of his 8-month-old daughter. He calls her lots of awful names, tells her to colorfully get lost, compares her to a dog in heat and at one point suggests she die. Let's just say, overall, it's not exactly on par with his role in What Women Want.

To honor Gibson's so-called "Mel-tdown"—and to avoid at all costs a review of Nicolas Cage in The Sorcerer's Apprentice—we look back at this award-winning actor's career paired with some of his recently recorded quotes.

Mad Max (1979)

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Reportedly shot in 12 weeks with a budget of $350,000, George Miller's Aussie cult classic spawned two more big-budget thrillers set in a violent, barren, gang-filled future. The action focuses on the search for gasoline—roaming marauders drive tricked out big rigs and hot rods—and Gibson acts as one of the few honorable sheriffs among the hordes. Between Mad Max and 1981's Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, more cars are wrecked and people killed than lines spoken. Yet Gibson's work as a noble loner in such a brutal world may be his best.

Corresponding "Mel-tdown" quote: "My soul is screaming because you don't have one to join mine. You have no fucking soul."

Lethal Weapon (1987)

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The beginning of the mega-franchise that launched Gibson to superstardom featured him as Sgt. Riggs, a renegade cop with really big hair. Like, really big, Debbie Gibson hair. Audiences largely found the chiseled heartthrob to be endearingly quirky and rambunctiously brave despite a relentless twitchiness deserving of strong medication. Sage partner Danny "I'm too old for this shit" Glover played the straight man.

The last scene of the original film never held water for me, even when I first saw it 23 years ago. After a prolonged chase throughout most of Southern California, Gibson engages in fisticuffs with bad guy Gary Busey on the front lawn of Glover's house with the entire Los Angeles Police Department looking on. Forget the high-speed crashes and Gibson's neat dislocating shoulder trick—this WWE-style battle seemed like unnecessary theatrics, especially with L.A.'s finest as spectators.

Corresponding "Mel-tdown" quote: "I don't involve the police in anything because I stand up for myself."

Conspiracy Theory (1997)

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Gibson plays a slightly less endearing, much less loveable, ever more twitchy believer of multiple cover-ups, from government plots to alien abductions. Through the magic of moviemaking, one of his theories comes up aces—and lands him in the lap of Justice Department employee Julia Roberts. Gibson actually works wonders here as an otherwise harmless gnat filled with outlandish beliefs and intense paranoia, but the overall movie conspires against him.

Corresponding "Mel-tdown" quote: "I'm telling you, I'm just telling you the truth. I don't like it. I don't want that woman. I don't want you. I don't believe you anymore. I don't trust you."

Braveheart (1995)

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This Scottish epic holds a special place in my heart only because I first saw it in Scotland, on VHS, with a crowd of mostly drunk Scots. The crowd's pure hatred for the English, combined with Gibson's gung-ho, face-painted portrayal of William Wallace, created as visceral a movie-watching experience as I've ever experienced. Historical accuracy? Pshaw. Nobody's channeled revenge like Gibson's Wallace since, well, Gibson's phone calls last week.

Corresponding "Mel-tdown" quote: "You insult me with every look, every breath, every heartbeat."

What Women Want (2000)

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A slimy ad executive and single father, Gibson, in a Freaky Friday-like twist, receives the power to read women's minds. He uses this power to seduce the wonderful Helen Hunt, torment his teenage daughter and creepily freak out unsuspecting secretaries.

Corresponding "Mel-tdown" quote: "So you're not lying to me about fake tits?"

Signs (2002)

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Like most M. Night Shyamalan movies, Signs fizzles at the end. Like most serious Gibson roles, his turn as a scarred small-town reverend facing an alien invasion falls flat. That said, I've always thought one thing may have saved Signs: Leaving the physical aliens to the viewer's imagination rather than rendering them as clichéd CGI monsters.

Corresponding "Mel-tdown" quote: "And that green thing today was enough. That's provocative, okay?"

Edge of Darkness (2010)

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Did you see this? Didn't think so.

Corresponding "Mel-tdown" quote: "The career is over!"

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