Mel Gibson, director of this year's Andrew Garfield-starring war drama Hacksaw Ridge, is speaking out about the controversy surrounding the release of Nate Parker's Nat Turner biopic The Birth of a Nation. Joining fellow directors Mira Nair, Denzel Washington, and more for a Hollywood Reporterroundtable discussion, Gibson said the fact that Parker has to live with the "stigma" of the 1999 rape accusation isn't fair.
"I don't think it's fair," Gibson told THR when asked about people boycotting Parker's film in light of the controversy. "He was cleared of all that stuff [a rape trial in which Parker was found not guilty]. And it was years ago. You have to follow the system there. I think he's innocent of all that stuff. The fact that he has to live with that stigma, and that it affects the art he does, is unfair."
Nair, who directed this year's Queen of Katwe, had a more nuanced take on the issue. "I think yes, the art should be separated," Nair said. "But in this case, it was ironic that at the heart of Birth of a Nation was the nature of what he was linked with [a rape of the lead character's wife]. That was, I think, what created ambiguity and confusion in the eyes of the audience."
Gibson also briefly addressed his own past controversies, though not in the same tone as his recent Late Show appearance. "My God, any experience you have in life enriches your work somehow, good or bad," Gibson explained of how his "past personal issues" have affected his work. "I developed a lot of things when I had some time off. It was the off-season, you might say. It's just so good to be able to come back and do what I love doing, just tell stories. We're all just storytellers, right?"