2016-06-30
Excerpts from ABC News/Primetime correspondent Diane Sawyer's interview with Mel Gibson, broadcast on Feburary 16, 2004.



Who Killed Jesus?

Diane Sawyer: Who killed Jesus Christ?

Mel Gibson: The big answer is, we all did. I'll be first in the culpability stakes here, you know.


Is Mel Gibson Anti-Semitic?

Sawyer: Are you anti-Semitic?

Gibson: No, of course not...And here's the other thing. For me, it goes against the tenets of my faith, to be racist in any form. To be anti-Semitic is a sin. It's been condemned by one Papal Council after another. There's encyclicals on it, which is, you know- To be anti-Semitic is to be un-Christian, and I'm not.

Abraham Foxman, Anti-Defamation League National Director: ...This is his vision, his faith. He's a true believer, and I respect that. But there are times that there are unintended consequences...

Sawyer: Do you think Mel Gibson is an anti-Semite?

Foxman: No, I do not. No, I do not...

Sawyer: Do you believe this is an anti-Semitic movie?

Foxman: No, I do not believe it's an anti-Semitic movie. I believe that this movie has the potential to fuel anti-Semitism, to reinforce it.


Mel's Views on the Holocaust

Gibson: You know, do I believe that there were concentration camps where defenseless and innocent Jews died cruelly under the Nazi regime? Of course I do. Absolutely. It was an atrocity of monumental proportion.

Sawyer: Are you looking into the face of a particular kind of evil with the Holocaust?

Gibson: Of course. You're looking- yes...

Sawyer: ...What is the particular evil there?

Gibson: ...what's the particular evil? I mean, why do you need me to tell you? It's like, it's obvious. They're killed because of who and what they are. Is that not evil enough?...


Gibson on the Point of His Film

Gibson: He was beaten for our iniquities. He was wounded for our transgressions and by his wounds we are healed. That's the point of the film. It's not about pointing the fingers. It's not about playing the blame game. It's about faith, hope, love and forgiveness...It is reality for me...I believe that. I have to.

Sawyer: You have to?

Gibson: I have to.

Sawyer: For?

Gibson: For my own sake...So I can hope. So I can live.


Gibson on Placing Blame

Gibson: ...And I don't want, you know, people to make it about the blame game. This is not about the blame game. It's about faith, hope, love and forgiveness. That's what this film is about. It's about Christ's sacrifice.


God's Influence on Gibson's Filmmaking

Sawyer: Do you believe God wrote this film?

Gibson: (LAUGHTER) Wow. God ordains everything. God made my bed, you know? It's -- you know, that gets into semantical kind of like questions like my kids ask me. Did God make the car? You know, it's - nothing happens by chance...

Sawyer: I think it's one of the things that worries and concerns, some of the critics...that this is presented as truth...But if God ordained it; if God was moving through you to direct it...You're saying this is the version.

Gibson: No, not at all. It's not at all. It really is my vision... I'm not taking myself out of the equation here. I'm the proud bugger. I did this. But, I did it with God's help. I mean we - I breathe with God's help.

Sawyer: Is this the version of what happened?

Gibson: This is my version of what happened, according to the Gospels and what I wanted to show - the aspects of it I wanted to show.


Mel's Father's Comments

Sawyer: Gibson's father, Hutton Gibson, age 85...has...seemed to be questioning the scope of the Holocaust, skeptical that six million Jews had died. So, what does Gibson think?

Gibson: Do I believe that there were concentration camps where defenseless and innocent Jews died cruelly under the Nazi regime? Of course I do,absolutely. It was an atrocity of monumental proportion.

Sawyer: And you believe there were millions, six million?

Gibson: Sure.

Sawyer: I think people wondered if your father's views were your views on this.

Gibson: Their whole agenda here, my detractors, is to drive a wedge between me and my father. And it's not going to happen. I love him. He's my father.

Sawyer: And you will not speak publicly about him again.

Gibson: I'm tight with him. He's my father. Gotta leave it alone, Diane. Gotta leave it alone.


The Violence Depicted in the Film

Gibson: ...it's very violent, and if you don't like it, don't go, you know? That's it. If you want to leave halfway through, go ahead. You know, there's nothing that says you have to stay there...

Sawyer: Why so much of it?...

Gibson: ...I wanted it to be shocking. And I also wanted it to be extreme. I wanted it to push the viewer over the edge. And it does that. I think it pushes one over the edge...So, that they see the enormity, the enormity of that sacrifice; to see that someone could endure that and still come back with love and forgiveness, even through extreme pain and suffering and ridicule.


The Low Point of Mel's Life

Sawyer: ...You thought of jumping out a window?

Gibson: I really did. Yeah. I was looking down thinking, man, this is just easier this way. I don't know. You have to mad. You have to be insane, to despair in that way. But that is the height of spiritual bankruptcy. There's nothing left...

Gibson: ...I think I just hit my knees. I just said help, you know. And then, I began to meditate on it, you know, and that's in the Gospel. You know, I read all those again. I remember reading bits of them, when I was younger... Pain is the precursor to change, which is great. That's the good news.


The Film's Potential Impact

Foxman: ...I hope that most people see it, Diane, as a passion of love...Maybe when it's all over, in a sobering manner, we'll be able to come back and look each other in the face and say, "We have to deal with this hatred that's still out there"....

Gibson: Let's get this out on the table and talk about it, you know. This is what the Talmud says. This is what the gospel says. Let's talk. Let's talk. People are asking questions about things that have been buried a long time...I hope it inspires introspection. And I think it does...and I want to inspire and make people feel.



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