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Gibson Becomes <i>The Patriot</i>

Actor Mel Gibson certainly has made a lot of big, important movies in his day. But now he's making one that's truly revolutionary, reports The Early Show's Mark McEwen, who recently visited Gibson on the South Carolina set of his new movie, The Patriot.

Gibson plays the title character, a simple farmer drawn into the Revolutionary War to avenge violence against his family. Of course, a historical costume goes right along with the movie's setting. But Gibson says playing dress up does not serve as an acting aid for him.

"I mean, it does help, to feel that you look like what you're supposed to be doing," he adds. "I don't know if it helps me that much. I imagine it happening that way anyhow, before I put the rags on."

Gibson does not struggle to get into character on the set. "I figure, if you're worth your salt, you've kind of done the groundwork...beforehand," he explains.

"So that by the time you get [to the set], I like to be able to relax and really feel pretty free, and kind of clear. It's kind of a meditative state, really, I suppose you could say. But it's focusing on the mundane things, like a cup of coffee or breakfast, or just horsing around in the makeup chair," he says

He has enjoyed working on location in South Carolina, as opposed to the Hollywood area.

"Well, I don't think you're going to get these kind of rolling hills, and lush greens, and the autumn colors back there," says the actor. "The air is clear, and it's a beautiful time of year. It's good to divorce from your regular habitat, I think. That does help a great deal, because you have to find your way anew. And, in a way, that sort of allows you access to a whole new character."

Gibson may live and work in Hollywood, but he does not share the liberal points of view of many in Tinseltown. He is opposed to abortion and in favor of capital punishment.

"You have to have these opinions about things," says the 43-year-old actor. "I think I'm pretty firm on stuff like that....I don't feel like I'm howling in a hurricane. I just try and do my bit the way I think it should be done."

In The Patriot, Gibson plays Benjamin Martin, the loving father of seven children. Talk about life imitating art! Gibson and his wife, Robyn, just became the parents of their seventh child, a baby boy. He says that, as far as fatherhood goes, experience doesn't hold all the answers.

"I'm still kind of groping for the answers here," he says. "But you do develop, over the years, some kind of ease about the whole process that...reflects in the child."

"[The new baby] came along 10 years after everybody else," Gibson says. "You know? And it was a surprise, but a welcome one. And I didn't think I'd enjoy it this much.I'm savoring it, man. It's the best thing ever. It's great."

Gibson believes so strongly in family togetherness that hioldest child, Hannah, is working with him on the set of The Patriot. She's even sharing a house with him in the Carolinas. It's really nice to see her grow up - and get a job, he adds.

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