Thursday, March 9, 2017
On this day, in 1990, actor Mel Gibson overturned a table and stormed out of a meeting at MGM, when studio heads refused to cast the superstar in the lead role in an upcoming project about which there was serious industry buzz. The project in question, a biopic of Marcus Garvey, carried with it a screenplay by August Wilson, and a commitment from Spike Lee to direct. Gibson was incensed at Wilson and Lee's vehement refusal to make the minor changes needed to accommodate him as the lead actor, and to what he referred to as the studio's "racist pandering" to the African American creative team behind the project, that he threatened to opt out of any future Lethal Weapon or Mad Max sequels unless he was given the role. The studio relented, but the project was scrapped due to Spike Lee dropping out, and August Wilson publicly stating that he would not allow his name to be attached to a revised version of his screenplay. When asked by a writer from Variety about the sudden cancelation of a project which had elicited such excitement, and even talk of Oscars, Gibson stated, "Well, you know these people - they're undependable, and they have absolutely no work ethic. It's unfortunate for the rest of us, but what can you do?" One can only assume he was referring to writers and directors.