When Robert Downey Jr. accepted the American Cinematheque award over the weekend, he chose his friend Mel Gibson to present the honor. Then, to some surprise, Downey gave the gift of public acceptance to the embattled actor.
“I urge you to forgive my friend his trespasses,” Downey told the audience, according to The Wrap. “Allow him to pursue this art without shame.”
Gibson has gone from Hollywood A-lister to pariah, as he’s faced accusations of anti-Semitism, racism and spousal abuse.
“Unless you are without sin — and if you are, you are in the wrong [expletive] industry — you should forgive him and let him work again,” Downey said via E!.
The defense was a return of kindness for Downey. Gibson gave “The Avengers” actor a job in 2003’s “The Singing Detective” after his drug arrests made him uninsurable.
“I asked Mel to present this award for me for a reason,” Downey said, according to Entertainment Weekly. “When I couldn’t get sober, he told me not to give up hope and encouraged me to find my faith. It didn’t have to be his or anyone else’s as long as it was rooted in forgiveness. ... He kept a roof over my head and food on the table and most importantly he said if I accepted responsibility for my wrongdoing and embraced that part of my soul that was ugly — hugging the cactus he calls it — he said that if I hugged the cactus long enough, I’d become a man.”