In his directorial and screenwriting debut, filmmaker Adrian Grunberg crosses into Mexico with actor Mel Gibson for the action movie “Get the Gringo.” In the film, Gibson stars as Driver, a man who is thrown into a Mexican prison after getting involved with some mobsters. Grunberg, who has worked as an assistant director on such films as “Traffic,” “Man on Fire,” and “Apocalypto,” talked to me about his new film and his experience working with Gibson.
“Get the Gringo” was released on DVD/Blu-ray July 17.
How did your first film as lead director come to you?
I met Mel about six or seven years ago on the set of “Apocalypto.” I was his first assistant director. We struck a friendship. We had a similar way of thinking. We liked each other. The movie was originally Mel’s idea. When he got this idea to put a gringo in a Mexican prison he called me.
Did you learn anything from Mel Gibson as a director on the set of “Apocalypto?” What was your experience with him on that film?
I certainly did. I think part of the mutual liking between Mel and I was that we both have a similar way of working. We are both hands on. We are very vocal. We like to run around on the set. “Apocalypto” was amazing. It was a once in a lifetime experience. I learned a lot from Mel. That film will always have a special place in my heart.
And now you are directing him in “Get the Gringo.” Was it what you expected?
I was a fan of his before I was in the movie business. He was always there to help. I think it was very impressive how he tackled his character and humanized him. I don’t think there are many people who can do that.
Were you disappointed the movie didn’t get a theatrical release?
Not really. Well, the movie had a theatrical release outside the U.S. Mel decided to go a different distribution route. It was a gamble, but at the end I think it was a smart gamble.
Do you think Mel is someone who can rebound from his latest off-the-set problems? He’s lost a lot of supporters over the last few years and it seems to be affecting his professional career.
It’s hard to know. I don’t know how people are going to react in the future. But the Mel I know is really a cool guy. I think he has a lot in him to give us as a director and an actor. I think it would be a shame to lose out because of things that shouldn’t be.