Mel Gibson was mad as Max, now he’s having a blast as an eccentric therapist in Dangerous, the new action-thriller from director David Hackl.

If Mad Max marked his arrival as an action superstar – launching a career spanning more than four decades – then today Mel Gibson, 65, is happy to relax into the sedentary role of an eccentric psychiatrist, letting Scott Eastwood and Tyrese Gibson do all the heavy lifting in the action-packed thriller, Dangerous.

“Mel immediately understood the role and had so much fun with it,” says Canadian director David Hackl. “He’s a fantastic actor who understands a director’s needs because he’s also a fantastic director.”

But Gibson brought more knowledge to the role than even Hackl could imagine.

“Mel said to me, ‘Quite often some of these therapists go into the business because they need therapy themselves. So let’s say that this guy has his own problems and suffers from substance abuse himself and progressively gets worse?’ It wasn’t necessary for the character but when Mel suggested it, it was just irresistible,” he says.

Director David Hackl

A little of Gibson goes a long way – his brief but hilarious performance as dodgy Dr. Alderwood almost upstaging Eastwood’s sociopath ex-con, who is trying to quietly serve out his parole with the help of a steady supply of pharmaceuticals from Gibson’s dubious shrink.

Audiences just know Gibson is having a blast as we witness him progress from pill-popping to drinking increasingly expensive wines before moving onto the scotch and, if you watch closely, there’s even a fat joint sat in the doctor’s ashtray.

“We just wanted to see the doctor’s life unwinding so as Scott Eastwood’s character, Dylan Forrester, starts to become himself again, then his psychiatrist goes in the opposite direction and completely unravels. Mel wanted to make it very clear that this man has a problem,” says Hackl, pointing out how Gibson himself is just the opposite.

“Mel was so keen and focused. He didn’t go to his trailer during the entire shoot. He wanted to be there and present. Being on set is his happy place, where he feels most comfortable. The crew and cast loved that because it just shows the kind of dedication he has. He’s such a joy to work with and his ideas just kept flowing starting from our very first phone call,” adds Hackl, who rented a house in California’s Huntington Beach – not too far from the actor’s longtime Malibu home – to shoot all his scenes.

In creating the film’s stark, barren island scenes, Hackl took the rest of his cast, including Famke Janssen and Kevin Durand, to remote British Columbia in Canada where they shot during lockdown.

Originally Hackl was set to direct Eastwood in another film in Puerto Rico but Covid-19 scrapped those plans, Dangerous later presenting itself as the perfect film to shoot during lockdown, where its wilderness setting and strict health protocols ensured the safety of cast and crew.

The son of Clint Eastwood, Scott has already established himself with lead roles in Wrath of Man and The Outpost, although Hackl believes this role might be one of his best.

“Scott plays a reformed sociopath whose true talent is his ability to kill, although, in time, we find that he doesn’t just randomly kill. As the story unfolds, we learn that he’s not necessarily the viscous psychotic killer that he is painted to be early on.

“Of course, he has that beautiful rich voice so reminiscent of his father, but I felt that with this role he almost transcends his father and legacy. His performance is so complex and his dry humour and timing is perfect. He’s really become his own guy. He’s Eastwood 2.0.”

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