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Mel Gibson Says He and Robert Downey Jr. Need Each Other to Cope

By Michael Apr 9, 2024
Mel Gibson and Robert Downey Jr Charley Gallay/Getty /Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

Mel Gibson has admitted that he and fellow actor Robert Downey Jr. constantly saved themselves from being “nonexistent and blacklisted.”

The pair has a shared history of “falling off the wagon,” with Gibson’s alcoholism and Downey Jr.’s history of substance abuse.

Now Gibson has said the only reason they have survived their troubles and continued to flourish in Hollywood is because they stood by each other.

The Braveheart actor-director, 68, said Downey, 59, has remained a strong force in his life even amid a string of career-threatening scandals, including his infamous July 2006 arrest in Malibu, California.

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In that incident, a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy said that the Braveheart star lashed out at him with a string of antisemitic slurs. In a chat with Esquire published Monday, April 8, in a profile piece about Downey, who won his first Academy Award last month for playing Lewis Strauss in Oppenheimer, Gibson recalled: “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.”

Robert Downey and Mel Gibson have had infamous run-ins with law enforcement Kypros/Getty Images/Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department via Getty Images /

The Passion of the Christ filmmaker and Oscar winner did not star in any films following his arrest until the 2010 thriller Edge of Darkness. In late 2010, he was back in the line of fire when a string of recordings surfaced of him using multiple racial slurs and threatening violence against his former girlfriend.

In the wake of that scandal, Gibson lost a role in The Hangover 2 following protests from the cast and crew. When Downey received an honor at the 25th American Cinematheque Awards in Beverly Hills on October 14, 2011, he urged his peers to give Gibson another chance.

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Downey, who is Jewish on his late father Robert Downey Sr.’s side, asked the audience to offer Gibson “the same clean slate you have given me, and allow him to continue his great and ongoing contribution to our collective art without shame.”

He added: “Unless you are completely without sin, in which case you picked the wrong f–king industry.”

Robert Downey jr and Mel Gibson in 2011 Eric Charbonneau/WireImage

Downey also praised Gibson for standing by him amid his troubles with drug addiction and run-ins with law enforcement. “When I couldn’t get sober, he told me not to give up hope and encouraged me to find my faith,” he added. “I couldn’t get hired, so he cast me in the lead of a movie that was actually developed for him.” The film was the 2003 musical comedy The Singing Detective, in which Downey led a cast including Gibson, Robin Wright, Katie Holmes and Adrien Brody.

Gibson was also made a producer on the film, and he covered the costs for the insurance bond for Downey after no company would provide insurance on the actor, Entertainment Weekly reported.

Gibson told Esquire of Downey’s 2011 speech: “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.”

“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,” Gibson continued. While he and Downey Jr. have remained sober for years, they remain close and continue to be emotionally supportive of each other.

By Michael

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