march 02, 2016
ACTOR Mel Gibson went to Kirribilli on Feb 22 to pay a debt of gratitude.
The Hollywood star was a star turn at a memorial evening to pay tribute to the late actor Warren Mitchell, who had a profound effect on Gibson as a young actor.
“Warren made an indelible mark on my life,’’ Gibson said.
Although Gibson hadn’t seen Mitchell for 32 years, Gibson offered to speak at a memorial evening to Mitchell held at the Ensemble Theatre at Kirribilli.
Gibson turned up on his own to the theatre and sat quietly in the back of the theatre, listening to a string of tributes and anecdotes before being the last to speak.
As a young actor fresh out of NIDA, Gibson was cast as Biff to Mitchell’s Willy Loman in a 1982 Sydney production of Death of a Salesman. At the time, Gibson said he was “green and wet behind the ears’’.
Gibson said Mitchell was both “mentor and tormentor’’ in improving his acting skills and even corrected Gibson’s New York accent in the play as being from the wrong part of New York.
“It was a magical experience to work with Mitchell,’’ said Gibson, who is currently in Sydney to direct a film.
“Mitchell was extraordinarily talented and it made me a far better actor to work with someone of his stature.’’