Gibson admitted that he said Jewish people were responsible for all the wars in the world and described his words as a "drunken statement."
"Let me be real clear, in sobriety, on national television, I don't believe that Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world," he told Sawyer.
He said that Jews are not blameless for Arab-Israeli conflict.
"What are they responsible for? I think they're not blameless in the conflict. There's been aggression and retaliation and aggression," he said. "It's just part of being in conflict and being at war. So they're not blameless. Of course they're not. OK. Now, when you're loaded, you know, the balance of how you see things comes out the wrong way. I know it's not as black and white as that. I know you can't just roar about things like that."
Gibson said he might have been harboring resentment for the response he got from some over "The Passion."
"Even before anyone saw a frame of film, for an entire year, I was subjected to a pretty brutal sort of public beating," he said. "During the course of that, I think I probably had my rights violated in many ways as an American, as an artist, as a Christian, just as a human being."
Gibson took heat after people claimed the film was strewn with anti-Semitic images.
"The film came out and you could have heard a pin drop," he said. "Even the crickets weren't chirping. But the other thing I never heard was one single word of apology. I thought I dealt with that stuff. But the human heart can bear the scars of resentment and it will come out when you're overwrought and you take a few drinks."
Sawyer then asked him if he harbored hatred for that. "There was anger from that," he admitted. "I felt I was unjustly treated. My resentment stemmed from certain individuals treating me in a certain way."
Can one say anti-Semitic things and not be classed as an anti-Semite?
"I don't know," Gibson replied. "I don't know the answer to that question. Because one changes from day to day and there are different forces exercised on you that may or may not — and people every day say things they don't mean and they don't feel. They may feel them temporarily. We're all broken."
Gibson says he heard from people in the Jewish community when he asked for help in his public apology.
"I heard back that a woman who read the apology actually wept with relief," he said. "Now, that sort of hit me. I was like, 'Relief?' Oh, my god, she was afraid. She was terrified. And, wow, you know? I don't think I realized until, like, a couple, four days later, five days later, that what I did was press a big fear button."
He admitted that he didn't realize at first how much fear the incident induced.
"I didn't realize the level of fear that was there," he said. "(I thought) it was just the stupid ramblings of a drunkard and I had to think, 'Hang on, it is conceivable that they think I could be the next maniac to come into their neighborhood.' "
He told Sawyer he sincerely wants to learn why he committed what he calls "the sin of bigotry."
Sawyer also zeroed in on the views of his 88-year-old father, Hutton Gibson, who has publicly doubted that the holocaust took place. When Sawyer explored this in an interview a few years ago, Gibson shut her down and refused to talk about it.
This time he didn't elaborate much more.
"We're talking about me, here, right now, and me taking responsibility for my words and actions," he said. "I'm certainly not going to use him to sort of put anything off of me."
Sawyer indirectly asked if he was the reason he spewed anti-Semitic remarks that night.
"It isn't the explanation for what happened that night. It isn't. It has nothing to do with it. That's in my own heart. I was taught that there are good and bad people of any race and creed," he said.
Gibson's advice for stomping out racial intolerance, he told Sawyer, was to "have dinner. That's it … and (to) hear."
He choked up when he talked about all of the people who had reached out to him following the incident.
"I've been overwhelmed. It almost choked me, I was so overwhelmed by the response of friends, family, even the Jewish community, the letters and stuff that came in," he said. "Sort of broke my heart a little bit. It's like they understood. There's a lot of compassion out there. That was overwhelming for me. And I don't want to disappoint anyone again. What I need to do to heal myself and to be assuring and allay the fears of others and heal them if they had any wounds from something I may have said. So this is the last thing I want to be is that kind of monster."
Sawyer reported that while Gibson's holocaust project with Disney was cancelled after his arrest, he says he may do it somewhere else. She also said that Gibson chose to do this interview now so it would not be viewed as a publicity stunt for "Apocalypto," due out later this year.