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Robert Downey Jr. Sparks Backlash After Giving Mel Gibson A Shoutout In SAG Awards Speech

The actor, who won a 2024 Screen Actors Guild Award for his performance in 'Oppenheimer,' left fans angrily puzzled after listing off Gibson's name alongside several other 'talented artists' he admired during his acceptance speech.

Robert Downey Jr.; Mel Gibson
Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images; Steve Granitz/FilmMagic

Actor Robert Downey Jr. is receiving backlash on social media after expressing gratitude to actor and director Mel Gibson during his acceptance speech at the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards.

Downey, who won the award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Lewis Strauss in Oppenheimer, took a moment to acknowledge several individuals who played a significant role in his career, including his co-stars Cillian Murphy and Emily Blunt, nominees Annette Bening and Jodie Foster, and Gibson himself.

You can hear Downey Jr.'s speech in the video below.

Gibson has been embroiled in various controversies, ranging from racist rants and domestic violence issues to antisemitic remarks and homophobia. The actor has faced criticism for using racial slurs and expressing prejudiced views against certain communities.

Since 2006, Gibson's standing as one of Hollywood's most beloved and commercially successful stars and directors began to erode. The downturn began when he was arrested for driving under the influence, coupled with a widely publicized incident where he was recorded shouting at a police officer, alleging that Jewish people "are responsible for all the wars in the world!"

Further damaging his reputation, it was later claimed that Gibson had asked actor Winona Ryder if she was a Jewish "oven dodger," an accusation he vehemently denied. In 2011, Gibson pleaded no contest to domestic violence charges involving his ex-girlfriend, Oksana Grigorieva.

These incidents prompted actor Joshua Malina to question, in a 2020 essay for The Atlantic, why Gibson continued to secure acting and directing roles in Hollywood despite his well-documented history of anti-Semitic behavior.

Social media users expressed their disappointment and frustration at seeing Gibson being praised in such a prominent way

Downey Jr. has previously credited Gibson for helping to salvage his career following a long period of substance abuse, arrests, rehabilitation, and relapse.

Downey Jr. made a return to film with the support of Gibson, a close friend and former co-star from their collaboration in Air America. Gibson played a pivotal role by covering Downey's insurance bond for the 2003 film The Singing Detective, directed by their mutual co-star Keith Gordon. Gibson's gesture proved to be a gamble that ultimately paved the way for Downey's comeback.

Following this crucial intervention, Downey reentered the mainstream film industry in the mid-2000s, marked by notable projects such as Gothika. Producer Joel Silver, aware of Downey's past struggles, implemented a unique strategy by withholding 40% of Downey's salary until the completion of the film.

This precautionary measure aimed to mitigate potential risks associated with Downey's well-documented addictive behavior. Similar contractual clauses, designed to safeguard against uncertainties, became a standard practice in Downey's film contracts throughout the 2000s.