This past weekend Robert Downey Jr. publicly pleaded for Gibson’s forgiveness. Will anyone else join him?
Because of Charlie Sheen’s recent record-shattering performance in craziness many of us have forgotten about Mel Gibson’s heavy flirtation with being institutionalized. That is, everyone except for the Jewish people who run Hollywood. In retrospect, Sheen’s behavior was merely a flash in the pan compared to Gibson’s consistently moronic conduct. Smoking a lot of crack is easy, however, being labeled an anti-semitic, wife-beating, racist homophobe takes some serious effort.
One major difference between the two A-listers’ public relations disasters is Gibson walked away looking like a complete asshole. Sheen’s catchphrase was “winning.” On the other hand, Gibson’s most memorable quote was a haphazard combination of the most derogatory words in the English language.
The other major difference is at the time of Mel Gibson’s now infamous DUI, during which he spoke ill of a certain religion, he was one of the biggest names in Hollywood. Gibson was easily amongst the most powerful and recognizable in the business. After building a fortune off of the action-comedy franchise “Lethal Weapon” he decided to transcend petty acting and made the transition to actor/writer/director/producer. His second try at directing resulted in “Braveheart,” which took home the Oscar for Best Picture.
Perhaps Gibson’s biggest mark on the entertainment industry is “The Passion of the Christ,” the controversial film about the death of Jesus Christ. Due to trepidation about the subject matter from Hollywood studios Gibson funded the project with most of his own money. The movie became a massive hit, at the time ranking as the eighth highest grossing film of all-time.
Then it all went down hill. His dad said the Holocaust never happened, then he got the DUI, cheated on his wife, allegedly beat his girlfriend, and who could forget the terrifying voice-mails? Gibson’s career has completely unraveled over the course of the past five or six years, leaving him on the outside looking in.
Until this past weekend the only person in the film industry to come to his aid was Jodie Foster, however it’s hard to believe her vote of confidence didn’t have anything to do with the fact she directed a film he was starring in at the time — “The Beaver.” However this past weekend Robert Downey Jr., whose past indiscretions are well known in Hollywood, spoke up in support of Gibson at the American Cinematheque Awards on Friday night.
“Unless you are without sin — and if you are, you are in the wrong f–king industry — you should forgive him and let him work…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… 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 Jr. knows a thing or two about substance abuse and Hollywood comebacks. As a promising young actor he nearly threw his entire career away because of his overindulgence in drugs and alcohol. He even found himself behind bars on multiple occasions for possession of heroin, cocaine and marijuana. Now, he’s navigated himself away from his demons and become one of the most charismatic and bankable stars in Hollywood.
Gibson and Downey Jr are similar in their shared substance abuse history, but there are also major differences in their history. Downey was young and stupid during his meltdown. Gibson was an established old asshole. His behavior has been very hard to overlook because most people believe Gibson’s rants are his true feelings.
The question that remains is, will anyone join Downey in his support of Mad Mel? Gibson is a Hollywood pariah—supporting him could have significant consequences in an entertainment community that is dominated by Jewish producers, writers and studio-heads. Only established actors and Hollywood insiders can afford to take that risk. The industry has a long memory and they’re proving that they can make anyone disappear, even a star as big and talented as Mel Gibson.
Does anyone even care enough about Gibson to give him another chance?