Some celebrities attract the scandal-mongers like flies to honey. Or garbage. Then, there are those other stars who manage to leave all their fame on the screen, who seem to be made of Teflon, for how little dirt clings to them. You’ll never see a paparazzi photo of a bleary-eyed Tom Hanks stumbling out of a nightclub, or headlines that read “Cops Find Cocaine in Emma Thompson’s Purse” or “Stanley Tucci Crotch Shot.” This is mostly because these actors live their lives like normal human beings and not characters from a Bret Easton Ellis novel, preferring to clean out the gutters on a Sunday morning instead of waking up in one.
Jodie Foster largely manages to avoid the abusive and vapid lenses of the tabloids. Unfortunately for Foster, the star of her fascinating-looking new movie The Beaver, Mel Gibson, does not. After a seemingly endless stream of angry answering machine messages leaked during the actor’s divorce proceedings, Foster and Gibson’s film was shelved indefinitely. In an interview with More magazine, Foster has broken her silence on the whole ordeal, saying of Gibson, “When you love a friend, you don’t abandon them when they are struggling. Of course, Mel is an undeniably gifted actor and director, and The Beaver is one of his most powerful and moving performances. But more importantly, he is and has been a true and loyal friend. I hope I can help him get through this dark moment.”
Personally I don’t understand why the movie had to be backburnered in the first place, even though his purported rants were undoubtedly offensive. While it was a public relations disaster, it was hardly Gibson’s first. It’s like living in Kansas: Sure, another tornado hit, but you’d think you’d be expecting it by now. My personal feelings for Gibson wouldn’t keep me from seeing a movie I’m genuinely interested in — one that has Foster directing a script that topped the 2008 Black List, that compilation of the hottest unproduced screenplays floating around Tinseltown. If anything, Gibson’s well-publicized voicemail breakdown should make his performance as a mentally unstable man who deals with depression by speaking through a beaver puppet on his left hand that much more interesting.
What do you think, PopWatchers? Is it fair for The Beaver to be consigned to Hollywood purgatory? Are they right to try to wait until Gibson’s public image has recuperated, or is that like waiting for your bell-bottoms to come back in style?