The Iron Man star defended his longtime friend after being honored at Friday’s American Cinematheque Award ceremony.
After a long journey of struggling with drinking and drug abuse, Robert Downey Jr. has returned to the front stage with successful movies such as Iron Man and Sherlock Holmes, even scoring an Oscar nomination for his role in Tropic Thunder.
In recognition of his efforts, the actor received the American Cinematheque Award for his entire career.
Regarding Downey ’s amazing comeback, Iron Man director Jon Favreau said at one point during the evening: “Not since Joseph in the Bible went from prison to prophecy has someone elevated themselves from so low.”
Mel Gibson introduced the actor and joked as he made the presentation: “He taught me many things and I will use the ‘C’ word, courage. There’s nothing so much wrong with him. Of course you have to worry about the guy making the judgment here. He’s a good dude with a good heart.”
However, upon taking the stage to receive his award, the actor took the opportunity to draw attention to his friend Mel Gibson, widely criticized for his stormy personal life.
“I urge you to forgive my friend his trespasses,” Downey said to loud applause. “Allow him to pursue this art without shame.”
“Mel and I have the same lawyer, same publicist and same shrink. I couldn’t get hired and he cast me. He said if I accepted responsibility – he called it hugging the cactus – long enough, my life would take meaning. And if he helped me, I would help the next guy. But it was not reasonable to assume the next guy would be him,” the Sherlock Holmes star said.
After being imprisoned and arrested on drug charges, Downey said it was Gibson who stepped up and even paid an insurance bond for him when all the movie companies refused to work with him.
“He kept a roof over my head and put food on my table,” Downey said.
He then hugged Gibson and urged everyone to allow Mel to move forward with his career “without shame.”
“Unless you are without sin, and if you are you are in the wrong f**kin industry, you should forgive him and let him work.”
Gibson was accompanied by his friend Jodie Foster who also defended the actor a few months ago.