Jodie Foster took time out of a special screening of her new film The Beaver to ask moviegoers to "appreciate" Mel Gibson's performance onscreen instead of concentrating on his personal troubles.
The Silence of the Lambs star directs her old pal in the film, which is released following months of scrutiny aimed at Gibson over his nasty split from ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva.
In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the Oscar winner - who starred alongside the actor in 1994's Maverick - insisted she'd always stand by the embattled star, branding him the "most loved actor I have ever worked with".
And at a showing of the pair's new film at the SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas on Wednesday night (16Mar11), Foster urged fans to put their personal thoughts on Gibson aside and enjoy his moving portrayal of a depressed father in the film.
She said, "I just have to ask everybody, can you see a film and appreciate the artist for his work? And if anything, I think anybody who comes to see the film and understands Mel's extraordinary performance in the movie can't go away untouched by his humanity.
"If there's a message to the movie, it's that you don't have to be alone. The truth is that the great remedy for that is connection."
Gibson did not attend the event. He is currently battling Grigorieva for custody of their baby daughter, Lucia.