Actor-director Mel Gibson has been quietly donating time and money to a charity that provides aid to survivors of the Holocaust, according to a report.
In an interview with Extra this week, director Zane Buzby — founder of the Survivor Mitzvah Project organization, which provides food, medicine and shelter to Holocaust survivors in Eastern Europe — revealed that Gibson is an “avid supporter” of the charity, and has been for years.
“He has been to the office and personally learned about the mission and the people helped on an ongoing basis. He’s also helped raise additional funds by getting others involved,” Buzby told Extra. “Mel feels great compassion for what this organization does. And he doesn’t publicly promote most of his philanthropy but quietly helps out.”
The director “doesn’t just write a check,” Buzby added.
Gibson — who earned a Best Director Oscar for 1995’s Braveheart and was nominated again this year for the World War II drama Hacksaw Ridge — made headlines in 2006 after he reportedly made anti-Semitic comments during a DUI arrest in California.
In an interview with Deadline last year, Gibson said he had deliberately tried to stay out of the spotlight for much of the last decade.
“I’ve done a lot of work on myself these last 10 years,” he said after Hacksaw‘s premiere at the Venice Film Festival. “I’ve deliberately kept a low profile. I didn’t want to just do the celebrity rehab thing for two weeks, declare myself cured and then screw up again. I think the best way somebody can show they’re sorry is to fix themselves and that’s what I’ve been doing and I’m just happy to be here.”
Buzby told Extra that Gibson’s work with the Holocaust charity is “remarkable.”
“I have a great respect for people who turn their lives around, and I think that everyone makes mistakes in life, and I think the real proof of what kind of human being you are is what you do with that mistake,” she said. “He’s educated himself. He’s done philanthropic work now, and I think that actions speak very loudly … and his actions have helped a lot of people.”
Other celebrities who have contributed to the Survivor Mitzvah Project include Ed Asner, Frances Fisher, Elliott Gould and Charles Grodin.
Find out more about the charity at its website.
Follow Daniel Nussbaum on Twitter: @dznussbaum