Mel Gibson

Although he's known as one of Australia's biggest imports, Mel Gibson is actually American. He was born in Peekskill, N.Y., on Jan. 3, 1956, and his parents moved the entire family to the Land Down Under at the outbreak of the Vietnam War.

Gibson's start in acting was accidental: His sister sent an application for him to Sydney's National Institute of Dramatic Art. He must've been fated for stardom, since he was accepted; soon, he was onstage in a production of "Romeo and Juliet." In 1977, he starred in his first movie, Summer City, and two years later struck gold in Mad Max, a movie that launched a successful franchise and brought him fame.

Gibson proved his comedic chops in the Lethal Weapon movies and won numerous Academy Awards for Braveheart (1995), but he'll forever be known as the man who risked everything by bankrolling the megahit The Passion of the Christ (2004).