Mel Gibson did the inevitable recently.
No, we don't mean checking into rehab (although he did that, too). We're referring to the sit-down with Diane Sawyer, of course.
During an interview that will air in two parts Thursday and Friday on Good Morning America, Gibson worked on explaining to the ABC newswoman what made him spew anti-Semitic remarks when he was pulled over and arrested for drunk driving in July. Later in a public statement the actor called his comments "despicable" and apologized for his "belligerent behavior."
"It was just the stupid rambling of a drunkard, you know," the Oscar winner told Sawyer, "and what I need to do [is] 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.
"So, this is the last thing I want to be is that kind of monster."
Well then, what kind of monster...Okay, never mind.
The Lethal Weapon star was pulled over for speeding (going 87 miles per hour in a 45 mph zone) just after 2 a.m. July 28 in Malibu. His blood alcohol level registered at 0.12 percent (the legal limit is 0.08) and he was taken into custody.
But if only it were that simple. As the arresting officer was going through the motions, Gibson reportedly asked the cop if he was Jewish and remarked that "the f---ing Jews…are responsible for all the wars in the world."
This rant, coupled with the bashing Gibson took from those who felt that The Passion of the Christ was laden with anti-Semitic undertones, put a number of Hollywood higher-ups--not to mention the Anti Defamation League--on the offensive.
"How much did you read of people who came out and said, 'Do not work with him again'?" Sawyer asked. "What do you feel about them?"
"I feel sad because they've obviously been hurt and frightened and offended enough to feel that they have to do that," Gibson said. "Um, and that's their choice. There's nothing I can do about that."
Not that he didn't try, though. The 50-year-old actor, who first issued a public apology through his publicist, then directed a statement at "everyone in the Jewish community" in which he implored those who were offended to "please know from my heart that I am not an anti-Semite. I am not a bigot."
In his first face-to-face with the media since his arrest, Gibson also discussed his battle with alcoholism--which he's currently winning, having been sober for 65 days at the time of the GMA interview. He entered rehab toward the end of July and pleaded no contest Aug. 17 to a misdemeanor DUI charge, receiving three years probation and a $1,600 fine, as well as an order to attend Alcoholics Anonymous and enroll in a three-month treatment program.
But as anyone who suffers from addiction knows, every day is a struggle.
"A couple of times, you know, it was like oh, man, the hell with it," Gibson said. "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.
"I'll always continue to work. I've never much depended on anyone but myself, as far as that goes. 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."
His next project is the Mayan battle epic Apocalypto, another creative risk for the director with a fondness for working with little-known actors (no offense, Jim Caviezel) and practically dead languages.
As for those who are still sore at Gibson or perhaps unwilling to give him another chance, he hopes that "in time they'll know" who he really is.
But "you're powerless over everything really," he said. "All you can do is take another step, keep breathing."
Preferably not into a Breathalyzer.