In the opening credits for The Continental, Mel Gibson is first-billed. It’s a bit of a surprise, given that his role in the three-part event is the sort of supporting performance that more traditionally gets the “and” placement, but speaks to the controversial actor’s prominence in the series as Cormac, the manager of the famed Continental hotel at the center of the John Wick prequel series.
Gibson’s casting as Cormac was announced in 2021, and immediately raised eyebrows. While the actor’s reputation in Hollywood has thawed somewhat in recent years, he’s still well-remembered for having a history of antisemitic, racist, and homophobic remarks. The Continental executive producer Basil Iwanyk says that the casting came down to what Gibson would bring to the character.
“We needed somebody who seemed like he was coming apart at the seams, because this is a guy whose empire is collapsing,” Iwanyk tells Consequence during a recent press day. Iwanyk adds that Cormac needed to exhibit “charm and funny and charisma, where you’re gonna go, ‘Okay, we understand why this guy could have been a crime lord, and built his way up and engendered loyalty.’ And we just felt Mel was the perfect guy for that creatively.”
After his breakout role in 1979’s Mad Max, Gibson quickly became an in-demand movie star, whose career arguably peaked with 1994’s Braveheart, for which Gibson won Oscars for both Best Picture as well as Director. Beginning with a 2006 DUI arrest during which Gibson infamously declared that “The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world,” Gibson’s own Hollywood empire began to crumble — however, he has continued working in the years since, and received an Oscar nomination for directing 2016’s Hacksaw Ridge.
Director Albert Hughes (who helmed the first part of the 1970s-set assassin drama) adds that “there are a few actors out there, like Mel Gibson, Shia LeBeouf, Tom Cruise, and Tom Hardy — when you see them act, there’s a passion to the way they act. And there’s a believability. I’ve seen Shia LeBeouf in the Transformers movies — I’m like, oh my God, he’s all in. This guy is all in. I believe him.”
As he continues, “those four guys I mentioned, is what [Gibson] is cut from. And I love Road Warrior, and I’m good friends with Joel Silver, so Lethal Weapon’s always been a soft spot. And then you take the behind-the-scenes part of him… And I’m like, oh my God. Okay. He’s perfect.”
Adds Hughes, “The other stuff, you know, people can debate that, but he was right for the part.”
The Continental premieres Friday, June 22nd on Peacock.