Mel Gibson Says He Feels 'Powerless Over Everything'

ByABC News via via logo

Oct. 10, 2006 — -- Actor Mel Gibson is speaking out for the first time about the anti-Semitic comments he made to police when they booked him for drunken driving last summer.

Gibson tells ABC News' Diane Sawyer in an exclusive interview that his anti-Semitic statements were "just the stupid rambling of a drunkard."

Watch Sawyer's exclusive interview with Mel Gibson Thursday, Oct. 12 and Friday, Oct. 13 on "Good Morning America," which airs across the country from 7 to 9 a.m.

Gibson says he is working on healing himself and those he offended.

"What I need to do to heal myself and to be assuring and allay the fears of others and to heal them if they had any heart wounds from something I may have said," Gibson says. "So, this is the last thing I want to be is that kind of monster."

Gibson was pulled over shortly after 2 a.m. on July 28 in Malibu, Calif., for speeding, and he and reportedly made anti-Semitic comments during his arrest.

He later apologized and called the remarks "despicable."

His remarks were condemned by Jewish leaders and caused a furor in Hollywood. Many speculated that the 50-year-old actor/director's career was irreparably damaged.

"How much did you read of people who came out and said, Do not work with him again? What do you feel about them?" Sawyer asks Gibson in the interview.

"I feel sad because they've obviously been hurt and frightened and offended enough to feel that they have to do that," he says. "Um, and it's their choice. There's nothing I can do about that."

Gibson says that he will continue to work and make movies.

"I'll always continue to work. I've never much depended on anyone but myself, as far as that goes," he says. "And, hey, I'm not under the illusion that everything's just going to be hunky-dory work wise forever. I've never been under that illusion. Things could go away tomorrow."

In time, Gibson says he hopes he can make amends for his statements and convince people he isn't anti-Semitic.

"Would you like to say to them, 'Give me a chance to show you who I am?'" Sawyer asks.

"Well, hopefully ... in time they'll know," he says. "And, you're powerless over everything really. ... All you can do is take another step, keep breathing."

In August, Gibson pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of driving with an elevated blood-alcohol level and was sentenced to three years probation.

He was also ordered to undergo rehabilitation for alcohol abuse. He told Sawyer that he has not had a drink in 65 days.

"No, nothing," he says. "It''s poison."

But he admits that staying sober is a constant struggle.

"Even fear -- the risk of life, family is not enough to keep you from it," Gibson says. "That's the hell of it. You're indefensible against it. If your nature is to imbibe. ... So you must keep that under arrest, in a sense. But you cannot do it yourself. And people can help you. But it's God. You gotta go there, you gotta do it, or you won't survive. All there is to it."

When he has been tempted to drink in the last few months, Gibson says he has reached out for help.

"A couple of times, you know, it was like, 'Oh, man, the hell with it,' you know," Gibson says.

"But you don't, because I have friends and people that care and, you know, you'll fortunately be at the right place at the right time to, you know, reach out and ... And many people have reached out. My goodness. I mean it's ... I've been overwhelmed."

The 50-year-old has said he struggled with alcoholism and drug abuse in the past.

Gibson says that he had begun drinking again a couple of months before his July arrest.

"Years go by, you're fine. And then all of a sudden in a heartbeat, in an instant, on an impulse, somebody shoves a glass of Mescal in front of your nose, and says, 'It's from Oaxaca,'" he says. "And it's burning its way through your esophagus, and you go, 'Oh, man, what did I do that for? I can't put the toothpaste back in the tube.'"

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