When asked last night about Jodie Foster receiving the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2013 Golden Globes, Mel Gibson did not mince words:
"You know, I love her," Gibson replied. "I thought it was great. I adore her. I kiss the ground she walks on."
Gibson was seated next to Foster throughout the ceremony, surrounded by Hollywood royalty he used to be considered a part of until he was involved in a series of embarrassing public incidents. In 2006, Gibson was pulled over for drunk driving and went on an anti-Semitic tirade. In 2010, audiotapes were leaked of him raging against ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva, which eventually led to the actor pleading no contest to a domestic battery charge. (Gibson was sentenced to three years of probation and avoided jail time.) In the past year, there was the release of another tape of a ranting Gibson and a controversy over a video related to his 2006 DUI.
Through all the controversy, Foster's loyalty to Gibson has never wavered. She cast him as the lead in her 2011 film, "The Beaver," and stood by him through a rough press tour, even though his presence (and an odd premise) likely doomed the film at the box office. (The film's director and star did receive a standing ovation at Cannes.)
Why has Foster stood by Gibson through scandal after scandal? Their friendship dates back to 1994, when they starred together in "Maverick." Gibson recalled meeting the actress to the Hollywood Reporter, with her "piercing blue eyes" and looking like "she just came from gym." Her leading-lady transformation took him by surprise. The two have remained close and share an unexpected interest in gambling. She picked up poker after she and Gibson worked on "Maverick," and still plays with him. The two recently played at a charity poker tournament. "Last time I played I got beaten pretty badly," she said, joking that she was looking for revenge.
Foster, a two-time best-actress winner at the Academy Awards, described her relationship with Gibson in a lengthy 2011 interview:
"He's so incredibly loving and sensitive, he really is," she says. "He is the most loved actor I have ever worked with on a movie. And he's not saintly, and he's got a big mouth, and he'll do gross things your nephew would do. But I knew the minute I met him that I would love him the rest of my life."
She adds: "I know him in a very complex way. He's a real person; he's not a cardboard cutout. I know that he has troubles, and when you love somebody you don't just walk away from them when they are struggling."
In a another 2011 interview with the LA Times, Foster continued her vehement defense of the troubled actor. “People say nasty things to cops when they're drunk. Do I think he's made mistakes or do I think he's made mistakes handling his mistakes? Absolutely. He has been through a tornado of crisis in his life and all I wish for him is that he has the strength to come out on the other side.”
"Whatever happens as a consequence of his actions, he'll have to accept that,” she added. “But if you've ever loved anybody that has an alcohol problem, if you've ever loved anybody that has troubles, that's not the biggest problem that they have. Their biggest problem is their own personal journey and their journey with their families."
Even as the rest of Hollywood neglects to welcome Gibson back into the fold, Foster has done anything but walk away from her old friend, sticking with him through scandal after scandal and having him by her side during one of the biggest nights of her career.
"And of course, Mel Gibson," she noted during her DeMille acceptance speech. "You know you save me too."