Robert Downey Jr backs Mel Gibson

Robert Downey Jr has appealed for Hollywood to forgive Mel Gibson.

The Sherlock Holmes actor is friends with the Braveheart star - who has been blighted by controversy, including being accused of anti-Semitic behaviour and allegedly attacking his ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva - and praised his pal's "courage", saying he deserves a second chance.

Speaking at the American Cinematheque Awards in Los Angeles, he said: "Unless you are without sin - and if you are, you are in the wrong 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 ... He's a good dude with a good heart."

Robert experienced his own years in the Hollywood wilderness after he was jailed for drug offences and credits Mel for helping him turn his career around by landing him a role in Air America.

He added: "When I couldn't get sober, he told me not to give up hope and encouraged me to find my faith. It didn't have to be his or anyone else's as long as it was rooted in forgiveness. And I couldn't get hired, so he cast me in the lead of a movie that was actually developed for him.

"He kept a roof over my head and food on the table and most importantly he said if I accepted responsibility for my wrongdoing and embraced that part of my soul that was ugly, hugging the cactus he calls it, he said that if I hugged the cactus long enough, I'd become a man.

"And if he helped me, I would help the next guy. But it was not reasonable to expect the next guy would be him.

"I would ask that you join me in forgiving my friend his trespasses and offering him the same clean slate you have me, allowing him to continue his great and ongoing contribution to our collective art without shame."

- BANG! Showbiz

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