On Friday night Robert Downey Junior used his time accepting an award to plead the Hollywood community to let Mel Gibson work again, recollecting the way Gibson once gave Downey a second chance.
As the 46 year old Downey accepted an American Cinematheque Award in Beverly Hills he told audience members that Gibson was a “good dude with a good heart” while asking the industry to forgive him.
He later continued: “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 expect the next guy would be him.”
Downey was referring to the period when he was a recovering drug addict, and was considered unhirable. Gibson took a chance by insuring him so the two could co-star in the 1990 film “Air America.”
“He taught my many things, and I will use the ‘C’ word — courage,” Downey said. “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.”
Gibson’s career has floundered after bouts with alcoholism, his drunken, anti-Semitic rant during a 2006 roadside arrest, and his much publicized battle with his ex Oksana Grigorieva, which resulted in leaked audio tapes revealing a verbal assault that included more racist and anti-Semitic language.
Despite Downey’s pleas, it may be that the difference between Downey’s drug abuse, an addiction viewed by most as a disease, and Gibson’s hateful speech, viewed by most as bigotry, could be the dividing line between what Hollywood, and the viewing public, is willing to forgive. Or, it may be that Gibson simply needs more time hugging the cactus before forgiveness is possible.