Robert Downey, Jr. Tells Hollywood: Forgive Mel Gibson
The evening was held to honor the work of Downey, whose professional comeback from drug use and prison has been nothing short of amazing. Stars including Michael Douglas, Jennifer Aniston, Jamie Foxx, Jodie Foster and Gwyneth Paltrow praised the Iron Man star in taped and live tributes at The Beverly Hilton Hotel.
But the most dramatic moments came after unannounced guest Gibson came onstage to present Downey with the Cinematheque honor. During Downey’s darkest period, Gibson famously stood up for the actor, helping him get hired despite insurance risks and lending him support and guidance.
On Friday, Downey returned the favor. “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,” explained Downey. He added, “[Gibson] 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 the 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.”
“I would ask that you join me – unless you are completely without sin, in which case you picked the wrong f*cking industry – in forgiving my friend his trespasses and offering him the same clean slate you have me, allowing him to continue his great and ongoing contribution to our collective art without shame,” said Downey. The crowd applauded as Downey said of Gibson, “He’s hugged the cactus long enough.”
Gibson’s transgressions have been well-documented. Do you agree with Downey, Jr.? Should he be given a clean slate?