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Video: Jodie Foster stands by Mel Gibson

IMAGE: Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster
Ken Regan  /  AP
Mel Gibson has had more ugly scandals than hit movies in the past five years, but his longtime friend Jodie Foster still feels he's "the most beloved actor" in Hollywood.
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updated 4/27/2011 7:21:29 PM ET 2011-04-27T23:21:29

Mel Gibson has had more ugly scandals than hit movies in the past five years, but his longtime friend Jodie Foster still feels he's "the most beloved actor" in Hollywood.

Foster stuck by Gibson when he was reported to have made anti-Semitic and sexist slurs in 2006 and she's still defending him now that he's pleaded no contest after being charged with misdemeanor spousal battery for a fight he had with his then-girlfriend.

"I'm not defending his behavior," she said in a recent interview. "I'm defending the man that I know. And I know he's kind and loyal and is an incredible professional. He's probably the most beloved actor of anybody I've ever worked with in the film business. And I don't say that lightly."

Foster, who first costarred with Gibson in "Maverick" in 1994, finds it strange that she's been criticized for being loyal to him.

Foster won't defend Gibson on 'Late Show

"When somebody's struggling, you don't run away from them, you love them and you stand close to them."

She says the difference between Gibson and anyone else who's experienced pain is that Gibson's troubles were made public.

"As I said to him before, I don't mind seeing you in your underwear, but I'm not interested in seeing your underwear against your will. A lot of mistakes that people make, that we've all made — which, by the way, I don't think are as unusual as people might think — aren't usually played out" on the news.

Video: Watch 'The Beaver' trailer (on this page)

Foster plays Gibson's wife in the upcoming film "The Beaver," a movie she also directed. It's about a depressed man who can only speak to his family and co-workers through a beaver puppet he wears on his left hand.

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The movie is serious, for the most part, but that didn't stop Gibson, a notorious prankster, from having fun.

Gibson pulled a practical joke on Foster during a kissing scene they filmed in the shower, the actress recalled, in which Gibson mocked Foster's tendency to break out if a guy hasn't shaved before kissing her.

After locking lips with Foster, Gibson bent down so she couldn't see what he was doing and when he stood up, Foster said the actor's "whole face is broken out, totally red." She shouted, "What did I do to you? Was it my skin?" Then, Foster continues, "he starts going 'She's an animal! Look what she did to my face! She's an animal!' All day. That's what I got all day."

But it was no joke when Gibson ended up with a bloody head filming a scene where he and the beaver puppet get into a fight. The scene called for Gibson to use the puppet to smash a lamp over his head, but Foster says the prop guy didn't properly score it.

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"He smacked his head open and lots of blood came pouring out," the actress said, "but he did finish the take" and that's the one used in the movie.

Slideshow: Mel Gibson (on this page)

Though most of Gibson's personal trauma happened before he started filming, he was in the middle of a custody battle with his then-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva when he had to return to the set to film his final scenes. Yet Foster says Gibson was a pro that day.

"That's what we do for a living. It's focus. But, there's a lot of pain in his face and I'm so grateful in some ways that he is as deep a person as he is. He has lived through a lot of struggle in his young life as well as now. He brings all of that depth of feeling to what he does on screen and I'm really grateful to what a deep person he is."

Gibson showed a different side in a series of phone calls with Grigorieva. The 55-year-old Oscar-winner's sexist and racist rants were leaked to celebrity website RadarOnline.com.

Grigorieva also accused Gibson of hitting her during a fight at his Malibu home in January 2010.

He was charged with misdemeanor spousal battery. As part of a plea deal, Gibson was put on three years' probation last month. He was also told to get domestic violence counseling for a year and perform 16 hours of community service.

In 2006, Gibson was arrested for drunken driving. A deputy's report leaked to the celebrity website TMZ.com revealed that Gibson used anti-Semitic and sexist slurs.

None of this changes Foster's opinion of Gibson. "You can pretty much call anyone you like who actually knows him and ask them what they think of him," and she says you'd have a hard time finding anyone with a bad word to say about him.

Foster says he's "such a good person."

"The Beaver" opens in some cities on May 6 and wider on May 20.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Photos: Mel Gibson

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  1. Talk to the hand

    Jodie Foster directs Mel Gibson in the much-delayed film "The Beaver." Gibson is Walter Black, formerlly a successful toy executive and family man who now suffers from depression. No matter what he tries, Walter can't seem to get himself back on track ... until a beaver hand puppet enters his life. (Summit Entertainment) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Ready to plead

    Gibson arrives at Airport Courthouse in Los Angeles on March 11, 2011. Prosecutors charged Gibson with misdemeanor battery after a lengthy investigation into a fight with his then-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva. Gibson pleaded no contest to resolve the case and faced no jail time. (Mario Anzuoni / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Tough to hear

    At the height of her conflict with Gibson, Grigorieva released audio recordings through the website RadarOnline that captured Gibson raging against her. (Mikhail Metzel / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Short-lived romance

    After nearly 30 years of marriage to wife Robyn, Gibson left her for Grigorieva, who has a son from an earlier relationship with actor Timothy Dalton. Gibson and Grigorieva had a daughter, Lucia, on Oct. 30, 2009, but split up in April of 2010. (Jacques Brinon / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Will audiences come?

    Gibson, center, speaks on set during the filming of "Apocalypto" in 2006. This historical epic follows the decline of the Mayan civilization 600 years ago, just before Spanish invaders conquered Central America. The story revolves around one native who fights to save his culture from the outsiders. (Andrew Cooper / Icon Distribution via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. After the rant

    Gibson had his police mug shot taken July 28, 2006, in Los Angeles after he was arrested for drunk driving. He was pulled over for speeding and had a blood alcohol reading of 0.12 percent, according to authorities. More notoriously, Gibson let loose an anti-Semitic tirade, blaming the Jewish people for all "the wars in the world." (Los Angeles County Sheriff's Dept.) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. 'Apocalypto' now

    Gibson pulls on his beard during a news conference held in Veracruz, Mexico, Friday, Oct. 28, 2005. Gibson announced the shooting of "Apocalypto," a film in which the dialogue is spoken in an obscure Mayan dialect. (David Hernandez / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Gibson's 'Passion'

    Gibson directs Jim Caviezel as Jesus on the set of Gibson's movie "The Passion of The Christ." The film was based on the last 12 hours in the life of Jesus Christ. The film grossed more than $370 million. Gibson was criticized by some for the film's perceived anti-Semitism. (Icon Prodictions via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Good soldier

    In "We Were Soldiers" (2002), Gibson played Lt. Colonel Hal Moore who, during the Vietnam War, had to lead his men into a small clearing where they were surrounded by 4,000 North Vietnamese soldiers. The ensuing battle was one of the most savage in U.S. history. (Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Man of the People

    Gibson accepts his trophies for favorite motion picture star in a drama and favorite motion picture actor during the People's Choice Awards in January, 2001. (Lucy Nicholson / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Finding his inner female

    Gibson tried his hand at romantic comedy in "What Women Want" (2000). Nick (Gibson), a chauvinistic hot-shot advertising exec, has his life turned haywire when a fluke accident enables him to hear what women think. (Paramount Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Seeking his son

    Gibson starred in 1996's "Ransom" as a multimillionaire whose young son (played by Brawley Nolte) is kidnapped for ransom. (Getty Images / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Oscar winner

    Mel Gibson holds Oscars for best director and best picture for "Braveheart," at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles. Gibson shared the best picture award with producers Alan Ladd and Bruce Davey. (Jeff Haynes / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Director and star

    In "Braveheart" (1995), Gibson played William Wallace, a Scottish rebel who leads an uprising against the cruel English ruler Edward the Longshanks (Patrick McGoohan), who wishes to inherit the crown of Scotland for himself. (AFP -Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. No pretty-boy role

    In "The Man Without a Face" (1993), Gibson plays Justin McLeod, a former teacher whose face was disfigured in an automobile accident and fire who lives as a recluse. He is befriended by a young man named Chuck (Nick Stahl), which ignites suspicion and hostility from the townspeople. (Everett Collection) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Sci-fi drama

    In "Forever Young" (1992), a 1939 test pilot asks his best friend to use him as a guinea pig for a cryogenics experiment. Daniel McCormick (Gibson) wants to be frozen for a year so that he doesn't have to watch his love lying in a coma. The next thing Daniel knows he's awoken in 1992. The film also features a very young Elijah Wood, right. (Everett Collection) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Together for decades

    Gibson and wife Robyn attended the "Hamlet" premiere in Los Angeles on Dec. 18, 1990. Gibson married Robyn Moore in 1980 and they divorced in 2009. They have seven children together. (Barry King / WireImage.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. A mother's son

    In "Hamlet" (1990), Gibson took on Shakespeare's melancholy Danish prince. Directed by Franco Zeffirelli, the film also starred Glenn Close as Hamlet's mother Gertrude. In real life, Close is only nine years older than Gibson. (Everett Collection) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Come fly with me

    Gibson and Robert Downey Jr. starred in 1990's "Air America," about two pilots during the Vietnam War who discover their planes are being used to smuggle heroin. () Back to slideshow navigation
  20. It takes a team

    "Lethal Weapon" (1987) is the first of a series of movies that were released in 1987, 1989, 1992, and 1998, all starring Gibson and Danny Glover as a mismatched pair of Los Angeles police officers. (Everett Collection) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. A tradition begins

    People's "Sexiest Man Alive" list began in 1985 with Mel Gibson. That year Gibson also starred in the final (at least for now, as there are talks of resurrecting the franchise) "Mad Max" film, "Beyond Thunderdome," opposite Tina Turner. (People) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Early troubles

    In 1984, Gibson starred as Fletcher Christian in "The Bounty," the story of Captain Bligh (Anthony Hopkins), whose cruelty leads to a mutiny on his ship. According to Wikipedia, Gibson and Hopkins did not get along during the shoot. At the time, Hopkins was a teetotaler, and Gibson was struggling with alcoholism. Gibson took to mixing two shots of Scotch with his beer. He dubbed the concoction "Liquid Violence." (Everett Collection) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Stunning early performance

    "Gallipoli" (1981) tells the story of a group of young Australian men who leave their various backgrounds behind and sign up to join the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZACs) in World War I. They each meet their fates against the Turkish army in the infamous battle. (Everett Collection) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. 'Mad' Mel

    In "Mad Max" (1979), an Australian dystopia of decaying order and violent highways, a police pursuit driver is drawn into a path of vengeance after a motorcycle gang targets him for the death of their former leader. (Everett Collection) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. Auspicious beginnings

    Gibson made his feature-film debut in "Summer City" (1976), a low-budget Australian teen drama that chronicles the exploits of a quartet of boys who leave Sydney and head out for a weekend of surfing and adventure. Unfortunately the fun takes a serious turn when they find themselves involved in a murder. (Platinum Disc) Back to slideshow navigation
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