Date: 16th January 2003
MEL Gibson has claimed mysterious enemies are plotting against him and harassing his family because he is making a film about Jesus Christ.
The Australian actor and director has just started shooting The Passion in Italy, a Biblical film shot entirely in Latin and Aramaic - the long dead language of the First Testament.
"When you take up a subject like this, it brings out a lot of enemies," he was quoted saying in Britain's Daily Express newspaper.
He said his bank accounts were trawled, his 85-year-old father was approached, and charities he supports investigated because some people were upset about his film.
"Jesus suffered for all of us. It's time to get back to that basic message," he said.
"The world has gone nuts. We could all use a little more love, faith, hope and forgiveness."
He sees The Passion as a religious duty but is no fan of the Vatican.
Cynics claim the film is a "vanity" project for Gibson, who, although a devout Catholic, has called the Vatican a "wolf in sheep's clothing".
"I do not believe in the Church as an institution," he said at a press conference to launch the film.
Source: Press Release