Gibson plays Graham Hess, a farmer who discovers unexplained crop circles in his cornfields and subsequently has his normal life interrupted by forces of the supernatural. "Signs" producer Sam Mercer says that even though Gibson is one of the world's biggest movie stars, he brings a very likeable "everyman" quality to the part.
Shyamalan, who wrote and directed "Sixth Sense," has built his reputation around his use of intrigue and the occult in his films.
"There is a lot of mystery involved, and that of course wants to make you look further. It keeps you in long enough, until pieces start to come together and you start to understand the characters in stages, which is great, because in real life you normally learn about people in bits and pieces. There was something very real about it. And it was the kind of project I hadn't done before," says Gibson.
"It's a film about spirituality and belief and faith," says Gibson. "Graham is an Episcopalian minister who seems very insistent and stubbornly opposed to the idea of anyone calling him Father. And you soon realize that he is someone who has serious doubts. He has been shut down by a devastating life experience. It's not clear at the beginning of the film what has happened, but you sense it from his behavior and you find out the exact nature of his wounds as the story unfolds."
The bizarre appearance of the crop circles on the farm would be unnerving for anyone, Gibson continues, "but the situation already has its own built-in tensions for reasons we don't understand until later."
Shyamalan even makes a cameo in his own film as Gibson's neighbor. Gibson gives the director high marks as an actor, "He has a very good understanding of demonstration in front of a camera. He only did it for like one day, and he had a couple of warm up takes, then a better one and a better one. Then he sort of hit it. Take five was fantastic."
That is a big complement coming from a Gibson who has won Academy Awards himself for directing and producing ("Braveheart.")
Gibson was born in upstate New York and moved to Australia when he was 12. He became a movie star down under before Hollywood imported and embraced him. Gibson has made almost 50 films including "Lethal Weapon," "Braveheart," "What Women Want," and "Conspiracy Theory."