Mel Gibson's Stalker And The Passion Of Palestine
An Encounter with Mel Gibson's Stalker and the Passion of Palestine and the Middle East
By Genevieve Cora Fraser
If memory serves me, Zack Sinclair and I shared time together in early September 2004. Zack is the 34 year old drifter, as some have described him, who showed up to pray with Mel Gibson, the director of The Passion of the Christ, at a Southern California chapel where the actor attends Mass with his family.
Ironically, Zack and I met in Los Angeles, the City of Angels. We were waiting for a bus. I had just emerged from the subway with my grandchild and stood along with Zack, shoppers, and rush hour travelers by a cluster of cylindrical sculptures that also serve as seats. Zack watched as my 6 year old grandchild climbed on and jumped off the lowest cylinders. I forget who spoke first. I think he did - wanting to know the fares and how often the buses come and go. He was concerned that he had enough money to make it to Santa Monica - to the beach - which is where he planned to spend the night.
I was surprised by both the question and his hint at homelessness. Zack was about as clean cut as anyone you might see walking the streets of any city. He was dressed as if he had just come from an office job, with a clean, light colored shirt and slacks. But he carried a well stuffed, military style duffle bag, a clue to his drifter status. I explained that I wasn't sure of the exact fare because I had bought a discount travel card and was in town babysitting during the final weeks before school reopened. But the subways were essentially free because no one seemed to check to see if you paid the fare, I offered.
I asked if he was in town looking for work, if he was in the industry - meaning the film and television industry. I wondered if he was an actor. He was attractive, slender, and articulate - almost a Jimmy Stewart type. Jobs were hard to come by, but many would-be stars made a few hundred dollars here and there as "extras." Sleeping out on a clear night under the stars, or in their car, while waiting for their ship to come in was not an uncommon fate for some down-in-their-luck tinsel town aspirants. No, he explained, he was not in the industry but here to visit a friend, Mel Gibson.
I was surprised by his response. But lots of folks in the area know lots of famous people, so I reserved judgment. "Why don't you ask Mel to put you up for a few days," I asked. "It's rather complicated," he explained. "Mel's a very, very intense guy."
"I loved his The Passion," I confided, "though the critics panned it and of course, Braveheart - What a classic! Have you seen Gibson's Conspiracy Theory? It's one of my favorites. Mel plays a cab driver who's stalking this woman, Julia Roberts. You think he's a nut-case but he's really not --." No, it was The Passion of the Christ that drew Zack to Mel. It's an important film, I agreed.
"I know this is an odd thing to say, but The Passion reminds me of the Palestinians," I said. I was probing to see if he was a Zionist Christian, but instead he seemed to understand. "They're being scourged and pillared and crucified and the world just lets it happen. In fact, we're paying for it to happen, with our tax dollars to the Israeli military," I said concerned I was sounding a bit preachy to a complete stranger.
Zack agreed then focused his attention on my grandchild in her play. "Do you have children?" I asked. No, but he wished he did, he said muttering something about having trouble with women or being in trouble with a woman. The setting sun turned the atmosphere into a reddish hue as the bus arrived. Zack gestured for my grandchild and me to get on before him then we headed for the long couch-like seat at the back of the bus. We sat together and continued talking as he swung his duffle bag out in front of him. "Where are you from?" I asked.
"Idaho," he said, introducing himself. "Mormon country," I commented. Yes, but he was not a Mormon, merely a Christian. Pointing to his duffle bag, I asked if he had been in the military. And so the discussion continued, mixing the image of the crucified Christ into a discussion of what we are doing to the Muslim world during this New Age Crusade. He said he had been in Iraq during the Gulf War and knew for a fact that we were using experimental weapons on the Arabs. Our eyes met in an understanding of the horror America had created. Yes, the blood and gore of the crucifixion was being replayed. The Arab world was paying the price.
My grandchild, tugged at me. "Nana," she said. We've passed our bus stop." And so we had, the bus had sped past neon, street lights, and street signs in the dark and I had lost my bearings.
As we got up for the next stop, I wished Zack well and hoped his visit with Mel was everything he hoped it would be - though I had a fleeting thought that perhaps he wasn't as close to Mel as he imagined. I believe Zack's parting words, though I wouldn't swear to it, were that that he and Mel were going to pray together. It made sense to me.