Mel Gibson has a real friend in Robert Downey Jr.
Friday night Downey, 46, accepted an American Cinematheque Award in Beverly Hills, and the actor used his time on stage to ask Hollywood to forgive Gibson, 55.
"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," the Iron Man star said.
Downey, who famously struggled with substance abuse himself in the past, costarred with Gibson 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 has been open about his battle with alcoholism; throughout the years he has been repeatedly taped making offensive, anti-Semitic remarks, including a drunken rant during a 2006 arrest in Malibu. In March, he pled no contest for one misdemeanor count of spousal battery, related to a Jan. 6, 2010 incident with his ex Oksana Grigorieva. During the pair's custody case for their 23-month-old daughter Lucia, Gibson admitted, "I slapped Oksana with an open hand in an attempt to bring her back to reality."
But Downey, who is proudly clean and sober today, isn't about to judge Gibson. "Mel and I have the same lawyer, same publicist, and same shrink. I couldn't get hired and he cast me," Downey said. "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."