Mel Gibson on Nate Parker’s ‘Birth of a Nation’ Controversy: ‘I Don’t Think it’s Fair’

Mel Gibson joined fellow directors Mira Nair, Denzel Washington, and more for a Hollywood Reporter roundtable discussion where he was asked to share his thoughts on the controversy surrounding Nate Parker’s Birth of a Nation.

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. He was cleared of all that stuff. 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 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?”