Mel Gibson Interview from 1998 Goes Viral with 'Sound of Freedom' Release

We transcribed the relevant portions of Gibson's full remarks to provide a more complete understanding of his thoughts.

Published July 11, 2023

Updated July 14, 2023
Mel Gibson attends Columbia Pictures' "Father Stu" Photo Call at The London West Hollywood at Beverly Hills on April 01, 2022, in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/WireImage) (Rodin Eckenroth/WireImage)
Image courtesy of Rodin Eckenroth/WireImage

In early July 2023, right around the release of the film, "Sound of Freedom," a video interview from 1998 with actor and director Mel Gibson went viral on Twitter.

One of the most popular tweets included a video that lasted three minutes and 10 seconds, and read, "SHOCKING: Mel Gibson (Sound of Freedom) is the REAL DEAL. Warned about the evils of HOLLYWOOD in 1998. Predicted how they'd turn on him. Alludes to actors being actual demons. He knows something very dark & wants to EXPOSE it. The seriousness in his voice is chilling."

We reached out to Gibson's representation by email to ask about the interview but did not receive a response before publishing this story. This article will be updated in the future if any further details come to light.


Before we get into the details of this viral video and its loud, spooky-sounding music that was added after its original broadcast by an unknown editor, we first should cover a few facts.

First, the interview was recorded in Los Angeles on Aug. 25, 1998. The interviewer was British film director, producer, writer, and composer Mike Figgis. A poster for Gibson's 1997 film, "Conspiracy Theory," is visible behind Gibson during the video, showing the words, "The Paranoia Begins August 8."

The interview was recorded for "Hollywood Conversations," in association with Red Mullet Productions, with the title, "Mike Figgis in Conversation with Mel Gibson." Figgis is perhaps best known for directing the 1995 film, "Leaving Las Vegas."

Second, the brief clip of the interview that was being virally shared on Twitter was re-edited by an unknown person, apparently from a longer, previous re-edit that was posted in 2022. In the video, several parts of the interview were presented out of order when compared to the original broadcast. Many users on Twitter questioned the context of the video, a subject we'll cover in full in this story.

Third, contrary to what some social media users appeared to believe, Gibson was not credited with directing, producing, writing, or apparently having anything to do with "Sound of Freedom," which was released on July 4. According to, the film was directed by Alejandro Monteverde, written by Rod Barr and Monteverde, and had multiple producers, none of which was Gibson.

The confusion that led some people to believe Gibson was involved in "Sound of Freedom" may have stemmed from the fact that the film starred Jim Caviezel, the same actor who portrayed Jesus Christ in the 2004 film, "The Passion of the Christ." Gibson directed, produced, and co-wrote the Biblical movie.

Additionally, Gibson appeared in a video in which he urged viewers to go see "Sound of Freedom" in theaters, saying in part, "One of the most disturbing problems in our world today is human trafficking, and particularly the trafficking of children." This may have led some people to believe he was involved in the movie.

Gibson's mention of trafficking referenced the story behind "Sound of Freedom," which centers on a former government agent and the rescue of children from sex traffickers.

Social media users made several different claims about the viral interview video, such as the claim that he had exposed the "evils" of coming to Hollywood. At the same time, other users indicated that Gibson's words were carefully alluding to sex trafficking and pedophilia happening in the town, even though he did not specifically mention these topics. As such, rather than having readers concentrate on a single fact-check rating at the top of our story that provides a single answer for multiple claims, we've instead chosen to simply lay out all of the data that we have gathered, including our own transcription of Gibson's remarks.


In what looked to be the original, 24-minute interview from 1998, Figgis asked Gibson about a range of topics. Those topics included questions about Gibson's options for careers coming out of high school, thoughts about asking actors to read for parts in casting sessions, the lack of "decent" film roles for women, the role of money in Hollywood, and the "social contract" that's associated with working in the town.

As for the Twitter video that lasted just over three minutes, it presented several parts of the original interview out of order and in a way that may have stripped away some some context, not to mention the fact that the clip included loud, scary-sounding music.

Gibson's Remarks in Context

The portions of the viral video from 0:00-2:03 and 2:56-3:10 came from near the end of the original, 24-minute interview with Gibson. During this part of the original interview, he appeared to be speaking about the idea of an actor becoming successful in Hollywood and then in the next instant being tossed out like yesterday's garbage, perhaps by the people you'd least expect to do such a thing.

We have transcribed the context of this part of the interview below. We recommend watching the Twitter video above, then reading Gibson's full remarks below (or watching the entire interview). Again, bear in mind that not all of these clips were presented in the Twitter video in sequential order.

The words that appear in bold reflect the portion of the remarks that appeared in the Twitter video:

Figgis: Is there a collective ethos, or, somebody once said my problem was I didn't understand the social contract here [in Hollywood]. I now understand what that means. Do you understand it?

Gibson: The social contract? I think I do.

Figgis: Yeah, what is it for you?

Gibson: The social contract. You can't get mad. You can't get mad. You can't let it get you, because you have to have, you have to make a deal with everyone else, and it's almost unspoken, that you are going to be fucked over at some point by people who you may have done something nice for. And it may happen that by circumstance, or, even very purposefully, that you fuck someone over, but that shouldn't get in the way of you being about to sit down and have fun with them. Am I on the right track? You can't build a resentment about it. You have to still try and love those people, because that's the way they're thinking.

Figgis: Is it very personal?

Gibson: No, it's not personal. They don't really mean to hurt you. Not really. I don't quite understand, well, I mean there's a lot of motivations for why it happens. Many.

Figgis: I mean, money will make you do stuff as well, won't it? I mean...

Gibson: Yes, yeah, well, whoever.

Figgis: I mean, if there are many millions riding on a decision, it's hard to be philosophical.

Gibson: Yes. Yeah, very, very hard. Very hard to be, you know, you have to choose what level of integrity you're coming in on. And I've often felt it. I've sat there and I have felt the knife slipped firmly through my shoulder blade and tried to have it shoved the other side through my heart. And I've actually felt the whole thing, and I've gone, "Ahh." (inaudible) Or, I'll think, "Fuckin..." And you'll resent it for a little while, and you have to let it go. Otherwise, you'll eat yourself alive. And I think it takes that kind of cockroach resilience to survive in this town. I mean, this is a bizarre place. And it doesn't take very long, and I'm sure you've experienced this if you've stayed here for any length of time. You come in. You're fresh from the outside. You're off the boat from the farm. Still got shit on your shoes. You're in here. People are charmed by that, that you've still got shit on your shoes. They're charmed by that fresh approach you bring to it. And that's a real thing. But they're also stroking the shit out of you, you know, licking you all over. And that's kind of good for you, too. But it doesn't take very long before you realize, or before it gets to you. It's cascading on you all the time. You can't get away from certain attitudes, from certain modes of behavior, that this town and the industry dictate. And no matter how strong you are, when you come in off the farm with those convictions and a certain line of attack, no matter how strong you are, you are going to be affected by this place. It's going to divert you from where you were going. You're going to be diverted. When I came over here, I was, oh God, I was in my mid-20s, the first time I really came over here. You know, I had a whole bunch of weird, paranoid suspicions, about what the hell was going on because there was a lot of stuff I couldn't understand.

Figgis: Right.

Gibson: And nobody was really bothering to explain it to me.

Figgis: They don't.

Gibson: And, I formed a bunch of opinions about the town and about the people in it that were like, surely that couldn't be, because a whole place can't be like, you know, weird town, you know, where the stranger wanders in and all the people are in the bar and they all shut up when he looks at them, and they tell you don't go to the house on the hill. It's like that. And then you go away and you think, no, that's, I was wrong. That's insane thinking. I'm paranoid. I imagined that stuff. That couldn't be the reason for why so and so was acting like, could it? And then you find out later on the track that you were exactly on track with a lot of this stuff, not specifically on track, but that you could, that some of your worst nightmares were real at the time, and you think (shocked facial expression).

And this is what I mean by actually starting to swim up or down stream with the rest of the salmon, eventually, if you stay here long enough. You'll find yourself doing that. And you have to... There's a way of doing it without doing it. That takes time. And it takes relaxation.

Figgis: Not being uncomfortable about...

Gibson: Not being uncomfortable. Realizing it for what it is...

Figgis: Projecting.

Gibson: Understanding what it is. Once you understand it, well then you're not afraid of it anymore, so you can just walk around it and through it, and then get on with what you tried to get on with in the first place. A place like this can humiliate you, and it can be, it can either, it can humiliate you, it can be humbling. I mean, it does rip your life to pieces, if you'll let it. And it's always pounding at the walls. These little guys, these little heathens with no soul downstairs with horns on their head, with a battering ram trying to like, beat your walls in. But that's your own devils, you know?

Figgis: As a matter of interest, do you think it's easier because you're an outsider who came in?

Gibson: I think so, because it was glaring to me, because I was an outsider who came in. But who isn't an outsider coming into this?

Christopher Walken

The last-remaining section of the viral video shared on Twitter covered the 2:03-2:56 marks.

In an early part of the original interview, separate from the other discussions covered above, Figgis asked Gibson about how he deals with choosing actors to work with. The two men then both mentioned that they didn't prefer to ask actors to read lines during casting sessions, with Gibson comparing aspects of the practice to prostitution.

During this section of the interview, Figgis mentioned actor Christopher Walken. Gibson then shared a story about meeting with Walken to see if he wanted to work with him. Gibson ended up saying to Figgis of his fellow actor, "Oh no, Chris Walken is the Antichrist," a moment followed by laughs.

As at least one Twitter user pointed out, Gibson's mention of "Antichrist" was possibly a reference to a movie. Earlier in 1998, Walken had starred in "The Prophecy II," a film in which his character, Gabriel, is returned to Earth after being taken down to hell by Lucifer in the first film, according to TV Tropes.

Again, the bolded parts below were what appeared in the viral video that was shared on Twitter:

Gibson: I was so far away from the technical aspects of reading and doing things within some parameter that is given in audition processes that, I thought it was hopeless anyway, so I thought, fuck it, threw it away, and was relaxed. And that's the best way to find out whether or not this actor or actress will suit your requirement, is to have them relax, and then you can talk about the fucking weather, and you'll know within 15 minutes.

Figgis: If this is a person you want to work with.

Gibson: Mmm hmm.

Figgis: Yeah. Christopher Walken, the first time I ever did a casting session in America, terrified me.

Gibson: Me too.

Figgis: Fucking (inaudible) I came to meet the guy. They said, oh he's flying in from God knows where. 500 miles.

Gibson: Yeah, but he didn't need a plane, right? It was like...

Figgis: He was doing all that kind of Scorcese stuff. And I said, have you had a chance to read the script? He looked at me and said, "Do you like my face?" And I went, "Yes." And he said, "Well, that's fucking great, cause if you don't, get DeNiro. Fuck you. I'm outta here," and stood up and walked out. And everyone said, "Well, I think that was quite a good meeting."

Gibson: No, he came to see me on a rooftop in New York. I said, "Hey, can I talk to you?" And he said, "Sure." He floated in sideways through a crowd of people. He was wearing black. And it was like one of those old vampire movies where they don't walk, but they glide. And he was a dancer, you know, so he's very graceful. And he moves sideways and he just sat down in a chair next to me. And it kind of frightened me. And he's a very smart guy. And we started talking, and I didn't say much of anything about the script. Nothing. I just started talking about the Middle Ages, and he began to talk tortures. And we swapped tortures, because I read this book on torture. And I tried to recall some of the most heinous things I'd ever read in this book, and he was like, "Ahh, ohh," and he would try and top it. And my assistant was there, and he left because he couldn't stand it anymore. The air had turned cold. And then he left, and I wanted to leave, because I knew I didn't want to work with him. And he was getting scary. And then I turned around, and it was on top of the Peninsula Hotel. I turned around to avoid his steady gaze at one point. And I was looking at the building with the top of the 6's on it, so there was a huge, illuminated triple-6 in red, and I went from that to that to that, and he started smiling. And I thought, oh no, Chris Walken is the Antichrist (laughs).

Additional Notes

At the 12:10 mark in the original interview, a moment that didn't appear in the brief Twitter video, Gibson mentioned a "successful producer" who he said would remain unnamed. Gibson said of this producer, "His whole opinion about women on film from beginning to end is very brief. He says, 'Women on film? Either naked or dead. Both is better.'"

In another moment, the full context of which can be viewed beginning at the 8:52 mark here, Gibson answered a question about a shortage of stronger roles for women in film. He said, "I think the male of the species is more adept at the telling of a story. That's why you go to any bar. It's not women telling jokes. It's guys telling jokes. Women are notoriously bad joke tellers, most of them. Some of them are good. Some of them have the capacity for it. But I think, just generally, men are better at it, at telling stories. And when they tell a story they have to, it has to issue from themselves and their own experience. And it's very hard if most of the storytellers around are men to actually have a good story about a woman."

Note: The full, 24-minute interview was also made available on a Vimeo account with Figgis' name.


"Christopher Walken: The Anti-Christ and the Archangel." Aperture Reviews, 14 May 2016,

@CollinRugg. "NEW: Mel Gibson Is Promoting 'Sound of Freedom' Which Is Set to Be Released Tomorrow July 4th, Exposing the Reality of Child Sex Trafficking." Twitter, 3 July 2023,

"Conspiracy Theory Movie Poster Two Sided Rolled Mel Gibson." Etsy,

@ElijahSchaffer. "SHOCKING: Mel Gibson (Sound of Freedom) Is the REAL DEAL." Twitter, 9 July 2023,

"Figgis Entering Hollywood for Documentary on Industry." Corpus Christi Caller-Times via, 5 Nov. 1998,

"Mel Gibson.",

"Mel Gibson INTERVIEW 1998." YouTube,

"Mike Figgis.",

"Sound of Freedom.", 2023,

"The Prophecy II." TV Tropes,


July 14, 2023: This report was updated to include a second link to Figgis' full, 24-minute interview with Gibson.

Jordan Liles is a Senior Reporter who has been with Snopes since 2016.