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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Eight years have passed since Mel Gibson starred in a major Hollywood movie, but not because of his well-publicized personal problems. Rather, he said he grew bored with the career that made him a star.
Gibson returns to theaters on Friday in revenge movie "Edge of Darkness," after being re-energized, he said, and feeling he had something to offer audiences once again.
"I was a bit stale. I was just tired and bored with it," Gibson told reporters recently, about the period immediately following 2002's "Signs," a tale of aliens invading Earth.
In the interim, the Oscar-winning director of "Braveheart" directed box office smash "The Passion of the Christ" and another hit, "Apocalypto." He also produced and directed episodes of television series "Complete Savages."
But his personal problems brought him wider attention, perhaps, than his work. A drunk driving charge and anti-Semitic comments to the arresting officer in 2006 made headlines worldwide. Gibson publicly apologized and sought counseling.
More recently, his breakup with his wife, a new girlfriend and a new child put him on the covers of gossip magazines.
But the major box office draw in the 1980s and 1990s remains popular among moviegoers, and in "Edge of Darkness" he returns to the action movie genre that he perfected in hits such as "Mad Max," "Ransom," "Payback" and the "Lethal Weapon" movies.
MURDER & INTRIGUE
Based on the BBC miniseries of the same name and directed by Martin Campbell ("Casino Royale"), "Edge of Darkness" has Gibson playing Thomas Craven, a Boston homicide detective and a single father whose only child, Emma (Bojana Novakovic), is killed on the steps of his home, right in front of him.
Craven's investigation into his 24-year-old daughter's murder and the secret life she led, takes him into a shadowy world of corporate cover-ups and government collusion.
Gibson happily admits to being drawn to characters who've lost a family member and are fighting for justice. "It's an old theme and it's a part of most hero myths. Something sets the spheres wrong, and someone has to right it," he said.
Gibson returned to acting because he thought: "I might have something to offer again" and he believed the story in "Edge of Darkness" was a good one to tell. He never made a public pronouncement about retiring or walking away from acting because, he said, "I just thought I'd back away for awhile."
Now he has returned with a sort of acting vengeance.
He next stars in dark comedy "The Beaver," directed by Jodi Foster and set for 2010, about a man who is depressed until being given a hand puppet that helps him deal with life.
Gibson then will take on "How I Spent My Summer Vacation," about an American stuck in a Mexican prison, expected in 2011.
But Gibson seems most excited about making a long-cherished tale of Vikings, starring Leonardo DiCaprio. It was the first idea he ever had about making a film, when he was just 16.
"I do like history," he said. "I like trying to imagine what it was like, especially when we don't have a clear picture of what it was, maybe romanticize it, make it compelling for film, and maybe even push it a little over the top."
Editing by Bob Tourtellotte and Cynthia Osterman