The answer to the question, "Are audiences ready to accept Mel Gibson as a movie star again?" came loud and clear this weekend: Nope! Gibson's return to screens in "The Beaver" was a flop, to the point that it's possible the film won't get a wide release at all. Of all the people we've tried to give career advice to in the past, Gibson might need it the most. Can his career be saved? Gibson should chat with The Wolf.
He's Winston Wolfe. He solves problems. He's here to help.
Here's how to fix your career, Mel.
1. Shoot Zach Galifianakis.
All right, don't actually kill him. (He's popular, and friendly.) But when Galifianakis reportedly cost Gibson his cameo in "The Hangover," he ruined Mel's best strategy for returning: Having a good sense of humor about himself. Tom Cruise bought himself a year of goodwill, at least, with "Tropic Thunder," and Gibson, had he tapped into the nutty tattoo artist role in the right way, might have done the same. When you think of Mel Gibson right now, you think of extremely unpleasant things. Charlie Sheen has done far worse than Gibson, but he was funny (or "funny," anyway) and people forgot about it, or at least put it out of their minds. Gibson needed this.
2. Get on "Oprah." Her show is ending, so you better hustle. The general principle remains, though: People need to see you publically apologize, for you to take your lumps and your medicine, before they're willing to watch your movies again. The last audio or video anyone has of you is those horrible audiotapes, and you need to replace that memory. "60 Minutes" might be a destination; if you want maximum buzz, try Charlie Rose. Or even better: Follow this up with "Between Two Ferns" with Galifianakis right after your first big interview, and kill both birds. (Note: This might require threatening to shoot him, as we mentioned before.)
3. In your next film, don't be on screen more than 15 minutes. However talented you might be -- and in "The Beaver," you certainly prove you still have it -- right now audiences kinda don't want to look at your face. You need to be in a movie, but not the whole movie yourself. That's to say: Take a smallish supporting role in a movie with a large cast; think Albert Brooks in "Out Of Sight," or Nicolas Cage in "Kick-Ass." If you want to steer into the skid a bit, see if you can get Quentin Tarantino to cast you in the (apparently) walk-on role of the racist plantation owner in "Django Unchained." (That could of course backfire a little, but Tarantino always does his actors right.) You can't carry a movie right now. Don't try.
4. Just direct. Even people who think you are a raving loon can't deny that you're a terrific film director. We refer to Mssgrs. Stone and Parker: "Say what you want about Mel Gibson, but the son of a bitch knows story structure." You can make a darned movie, that's for sure. So go make a terrific action thriller, Ben Affleck-style, but don't show up in the film at all, "Gone Baby Gone"-style. You can deliver the goods, if you can find a studio willing to take a chance on you, as long as you keep your face offscreen. Make sure you have someone scrub the script to make sure there's nothing even slightly racist or misogynist in it, though. You don't need that headache.
5. Stop hating Jews and abusing women. We don't mean to be flip here. Just know that this would certainly help.
There you go, Mr. Gibson. That should do it.