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Mel Gibson Thanks Robert Downey Jr. For Urging Hollywood to Forgive Him After 2006 Controversy

Mel Gibson Thanks Robert Downey Jr. For Urging Hollywood to Forgive Him After 2006 Controversy


  • Mel Gibson credits Robert Downey Jr. for giving him second chance in Hollywood after facing career-ending backlash in 2006.
  • Downey Jr. defended Gibson at the 2011 American Cinematheque Awards, encouraging industry to forgive and offer clean slate.
  • Both actors have faced troubles in past but have made successful comebacks in Hollywood.

Academy Award winner and controversial Hollywood star Mel Gibson has thanked his friend and Air America co-star Robert Downey Jr. for urging the industry to give him a second chance following his arrest and antisemitic remarks back in 2006. As part of Esquire’s recent cover story on the Iron Man star, Gibson heaped praise on Downey Jr., calling him “bold and generous and kind.”

“One time, I got into a bit of a sticky situation where it kind of ended my career. I was drunk in the back of a police car and I said some stupid s–t, and all of a sudden: blacklisted. I’m the poster boy for canceled. A couple of years into that [Robert] invited me to some kind of award he was getting—we always had this kind of seesaw thing, where if he was on the wagon, I was falling off, and if I was on the wagon, he was falling off. So I was pretty much nonexistent in Hollywood at the time, and he stood up and spoke for me. It was a bold and generous and kind gesture. I loved him for that.”

The award ceremony that Gibson referred to was the 2011 American Cinematheque Awards, during which Downey Jr. spoke on the Braveheart star’s behalf and called for Hollywood to give him a second chance, saying, “forgiving my friend his trespasses, offering [Gibson] the same clean slate you have given me, and allowing him to continue his great and ongoing contribution to our collective art without shame.”


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Downey Jr. has himself been the recipient of a second chance in the movie world after largely being blacklisted due to legal troubles related to drug use back in the 90s. At the time, the actor noted “unless you are completely without sin, in which case you picked the wrong f—ing industry.”

Mel Gibson Will Soon Direct the Thriller Flight Risk Starring Mark Wahlberg

Mel Gibson and Robert Downey Jr. starred together in the 1990 action-comedy Air America, which sees the pair as pilots who join a clandestine airline operating out of Laos and run by the CIA. The pair later starred together in 2003’s musical comedy, The Singing Detective.

Following a hiatus, Gibson has been consistently working both in front of and behind the camera. Roles in the likes of Edge of Darkness, The Expendables 3, Daddy’s Home 2, Dragged Across Concrete, Father Stu and more have seen the actor in both lead and supporting roles alongside some of Hollywood’s biggest names. Behind the camera, Gibson was nominated for the Oscar for Best Director for 2017’s Hacksaw Ridge and will next helm the thriller Flight Risk starring Mark Wahlberg.

While Gibson is grateful for Downey Jr.’s defense all those years ago, there are many who feel that, following his “sticky situation,” he should have stayed on the Hollywood blacklist for far longer.

As for Robert Downey Jr., the actor recently won his first Academy Award for his role in Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer, and will next star in the HBO and A24 limited series The Sympathizer.

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