Previous: Why Mel Gibson’s Movie Career May Revive

Summit Entertainment and Participant Media’s long-delayed film starring Mel Gibson and directed by his longtime pal Jodie Foster, The Beaver, premiered tonight at The Paramount Theatre during the South By Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas. Gibson did not attend, but Foster flew in for the screening and Q&A that followed. Film execs and fest staff milled about anxiously waiting to see how Mel’s comeback movie would play for the first time in front of a public audience. The line to get a seat snaked around the building. Attendees told me that Jodie intro’ed the film and received a round of applause. When Mel came on screen for the first time, there were no boos. Laughter occurred at the right moments and the audience appeared engaged. The film received what was described to me as a very strong ovation at the end. As one attendee tells me, “People were really moved by it. They were rapt. He’s phenomenal. People were really surprised they could let go of all the other stuff with him. It went as good as it could have been.”

During the Q&A session moderated by SXSW’s Janet Pierson for Jodie Foster, actor Anton Yelchin and writer Kyle Killen, the audience asked Jodie if this was “the biggest struggle in your professional life” and whether the film’s release delays ”had anything to do with Gibson”? Foster answered from a filmmaker’s perspective, including these statements: ”I was very lucky to work with him and have him as part of the movie. No regrets at all about having him in movie.” This is only the second major film that Gibson has starred in since 2002 because of Hollywood’s reluctance to hire him in even small roles out of fear that the public may not forgive his recent years of personal turmoil. But that may all be behind him now no matter whether some in showbiz think he’s a scumbag.

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