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Music

How George Harrison insulted Mel Gibson during their first meeting

George Harrison was always an outspoken fan of film and was even the critical philanthropist behind the Monty Python movie Life of Brian in 1979, a project that the former Beatle financed out of his sheer admiration for those behind its creation.

In general, Harrison’s only criticism of film was that he believed the medium was often too derivative. In a 1989 interview, the guitarist explained that he had never seen a movie that completely blew him away. Despite his reservations, Harrison had a surprising amount of great things to say about the Lethal Weapon franchise. He once explained how he loved Mel Gibson’s performance in the films and enjoyed them even if they were “so amazingly violent”.

As a famously peaceful man who was a party to the Hindu belief system and a key idol of the hippie era, it comes as quite a surprise that Harrison was a fan of the Lethal Weapon movies. Taking things further, Harrison turned out to have been so keen on the franchise that he agreed to provide the score for Lethal Weapon 2 in 1989. Harrison wrote the song ‘Cheer Down’ with Tom Petty and co-produced it with Jeff Lynne of Electric Light Orchestra.

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Despite being a fan of Mel Gibson’s work and providing ‘Cheer Down’ for the soundtrack on Lethal Weapon 2, Harrison didn’t meet Gibson for another ten years. In the late 1990s, Harrison had been at Abbey Road Studios working on a remix version of the Beatles classic ‘Yellow Submarine’. Meanwhile, Gibson was downstairs working on the soundtrack for his latest film The Patriot. When Gibson learned that the ex-Beatle was just a stone’s throw away, he asked if he could meet him. 

After a third-party exchange, Harrison agreed to meet Gibson and so the actor excitedly climbed to the upper floor where Harrison was working. When Gibson reached out to shake the old rocker’s hand, Harrison gave a look of confusion and allegedly blurted out, “Oh, I thought they said Mel Brooks”. 

As it transpires, Harrison likely would have been more excited to meet Mel Brooks as The Producers was among his favourite films. Harrison’s dry English wit had Gibson fooled for an awkward moment before he put the lamenting actor out of his misery and explained that he was only pulling his leg. 

Listen to George Harrison’s ‘Cheer Down’, which featured in Lethal Weapon 2, below.