Mel Gibson talks about being diagnosed as bipolar in a new documentary about the NIDA acting class of 1977. The Hollywood star was interviewed by his classmate Sally McKenzie about his memories as a student in a stellar year that included Judy Davis, Steve Bisley, Robert Menzies, Annie Byron, Debra Lawrance, Linda Newton and the theatre director Peter Kingston. “I had really good highs but some very low lows,” Gibson said. “I found out recently I’m manic depressive.”
While the interview dates back to 2002, the actor and director, who made headlines with a drunken outburst two years ago, has rarely talked about the condition. McKenzie, who wrote and directed the lively Acting Class Of 1977, which screens on ABC2 on Sunday week, said yesterday that it seemed like a genuine comment but she did not want to delve further. Other NIDA students had no idea that Gibson and Davis would be so successful. “Theatre was very much the focus of our training,” McKenzie said. “The thought of people being stars [in film and television] or having stellar careers was not really considered … It was all concentrated on the work and not on what was going to happen down the track.”
The actress who plays Mystic Marj in the TV series Mortified remembers the young Gibson as “very polite, self-deprecating, shy, certainly talented and just a really nice person … even a little bit embarrassed about the whole acting thing.” And Davis, who declined invitations to be in the documentary? McKenzie said she was “intense, private, very talented and idiosyncratic”.