The Oscar-winning Australian actor shoved The Daily Telegraph photographer Kristi Miller and launched into a tirade of profanity that only ended when his girlfriend intervened.
“I thought he was going to punch me in the face,” Miller said.
“He was spitting in my face as he was yelling at me, calling me a dog, saying I’m not even a human being and I will go to hell. He swore and called me a c … It was non-stop, he didn’t even breathe.”
Gibson, 59, accused Miller of “invading” his space and “disrespecting” him by taking the photograph.
“I took a photo of Mel and his girlfriend and when I turned around he shoved my back really hard,” Miller said.
“It shocked me because I wasn’t expecting it. I don’t know if it was his hands or elbow.”
Miller was shaken by the altercation outside the Palace Verona Cinema on Oxford Street, in inner-city Paddington, and said she feared she would be pushed on to the road.
The veteran actor’s 24-year-old girlfriend, champion US equestrian vaulter Rosalind Ross, was by his side and was overheard apologising.
“He was backing me on to the road,” Miller said. “It was only when (Ross) grabbed his shoulder and said, ‘that is enough’, that he stopped. She said, ‘I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry’. They turned and crossed the road and walked off.”
Earlier, Jewish theatregoers were shocked to see Gibson in the crowds gathered for the Israeli Film Festival at the Verona.
When approached by The Australian, Gibson ignored its reporter, raising his voice to continue his conversation with Ms Ross. When asked if he enjoyed the film, he became aggressive.
“Who are you?” he demanded before marching down the stairs and out the cinema doors.
A mortified Ms Ross stopped to make amends. “I’m so sorry, he’s a bit sick,” she said as Gibson headed outside, where he encountered Miller.
Although he entered and exited the cinema in sync with those watching a film about an Israeli musician Matti Caspi, it is more likely Gibson was there for an onscreen adaptation of Albert Camus’ Far from Men, screening at the same time next door.
In 2006, Gibson was famously arrested for suspected drink-driving in Malibu and made anti-Semitic comments, reportedly asking a police officer if he was Jewish, before saying: “F. king Jews. The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world.”
Gibson’s Australian representatives at Shanahan Management refused to comment, as did Palace Verona Cinema.