Mel Gibson probably doesn’t have many friends like his “Lethal Weapon” franchise co-star Danny Glover.
Glover and I were getting along just fine until I pressed to discern the limits of his friendship with Gibson.
An activist as well as an actor, Glover was in St. Paul to support his friend and “Buffalo Soldiers” castmate Jeri Brunoe in “Salmon Woman.” The performance at the Ordway was a benefit for the American Indian Prison Project Working Group.
“Actually ‘Salmon Woman’ was a project Jeri brought my company,” said Glover. “Sometimes you do a movie and you are introduced to another community. It’s not that you’re unaware of that community; it’s that you have another level on which you engage with that community. For me it was great because my grandmother is part Choctaw, so indirectly that is a community that was accessible to me.”
Such a supporter is Glover that he turned over his honorarium for his appearance to AIPPWG.
Also clearly a longtime staunch supporter of Gibson’s, Glover says he loves the man whom many in Hollywood have turned away from as a result of a series of controversies involving his hyperactive mouth.
Too many celebrities who live their lives among yes people would benefit from a friend telling them the naked truth. Friends are the people whose criticism means the most in a world where any knucklehead with a computer or phone can tell you what they think.
But Glover gruffly interrupted me making that point, as you can see on my startribune.com/video.
After the interview, Glover said, “What Mel and I say to each other is my private life, and I’m not writing a book.”
Saying that on camera would have been a better use of our interview time.
I also worked in a joke about our dust-up while discussing Glover’s mother’s alma mater, Payne College in Augusta, Ga., where he said he created a scholarship in her name.
“I thought you said you were one of the few people who knew what pain is,” said Glover, joking, I think. “Where Payne College is, OK.”
Teasingly, I told Glover that I knew what pain was because he’d verbally abused me in the last few minutes.
That brought a hearty guffaw and a “Give me a hug,” followed by screaming laughter.
This version of the interview opens with the question about Gibson that preceded the ones that got under Glover’s collar — the collar I helped smooth into place because he wanted to “look good.”
Q: Have you ever had a better toilet bomb buddy than Mel Gibson?
A: My whole relationship with Mel was just fantastic. Think about how things come about and if you look at your career every step of the way. If [indecipherable name] had not seen me in “ Places in the Heart,” opening on Broadway, would I have ever gotten to do anything I’ve done? If I hadn’t taken a chance in 1979, hearing about an off-Broadway play in a rinky — not the best place you want to make your auspicious New York debut — called the Roundabout where [indecipherable] walks into rehearsal; a run-through one Sunday afternoon, watches me, introduces himself and then in January 1982 calls me while I’m trying to make things happen … all the choices that you make. You can’t go back and say, “If I had done this different then this would have happened.” You go back and see what you did that provided an opportunity in another place. Had not [casting director] Marion Dougherty seen me and Carl Lumbly [Minneapolis native, South High and Macalester grad] in a play at the Matrix Theater in 1978, when we were performing three performances, would she have hired me for “Escape from Alcatraz,” a role in which I’m not even noticed in the film. After “The Color Purple,” when Warner Bros. is doing this big action film, she’s the head of casting and she’s asked, “Who do you want for Riggs?” “What about Mel Gibson?” “Who do you want to [play] Murtaugh?” “What about Danny Glover?” And [director] Richard Donner said, “But he’s black.” She looks him straight in the eye: “So what, he’s black?” Who knows? All those things happen in a way. My only control on it was I was passionate about what I was doing. I did enough and found ways to believe in the course. Not to know the outcome but to continue to grow in it. It was a part of me. Who would have known in 1967 when I picked up a book of a man’s writings who had been in jail that I would become so moved by his words, his language at 20 years old that I would end up playing him in 1986, Nelson Mandela. Who knows that?