A sober, gentler Gibson in ‘Edge’ 

It’s been eight years since Mel Gibson last starred in a movie, in M. Night Shyamalan’s “Signs.” Now Gibson, 54, is returning to the big screen in “Edge of Darkness,” director Martin Campbell’s adaptation of his acclaimed BBC miniseries about a straight-laced cop investigating the murder of his daughter.

Looking back, Gibson acknowledges that acting had become a relatively thankless enterprise. What changed his mind?

“I walked away after ‘Signs’ because the whole thing had gone stale for me,” he says. “It wasn’t ringing my bells, and I wanted to focus on directing, writing and producing. But I got the acting bug back because I thought that after all these years, I might have something to offer.

“If it wasn’t ‘Edge of Darkness,’ it would have been something else. But this was the best material I’ve seen in years, and it gave me the opportunity to work with Martin and [co-star] Ray [Winstone].”

It was three years ago that Gibson suffered his greatest setback in an otherwise storybook career, the alcohol-fueled meltdown during which he allegedly made anti-Semitic remarks to a police officer. He’s been sober since then, and though he doesn’t profess to be a fitness expert, he’s taking steps in that direction.

“I don’t work out much, and I know how horrible that sounds, but I try to eat right and I quit smoking,” he says. “I can’t do the fun things anymore. And that’s dying, isn’t it? They say you die in stages, and I guess it’s more than half over for me.

“But I still want to put myself out there. And it’s always a risk. There’s no assured success in life, whether you’re a director, an actor, a painter, whatever. You put your wares on display, and you’re going to be judged one way or another. You might get excoriated or praised, but all I can do is try to put my best foot forward, and with [‘Edge of Darkness’], I think I’ve done that.”

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