LOS ANGELES – Several of Mel Gibson's friends say he's a "different person" when he's drinking, but they do not believe he's anti-Semitic.
Movie producer Dean Devlin said he and his wife are Jewish, and he considers Gibson -- who unleashed an anti-Jewish tirade when arrested for drunken driving July 28 -- one of his best friends in Hollywood.
"If Mel is an anti-Semite, then he spends a lot of time with us, which makes no sense," Devlin told the Los Angeles Times. He met Gibson while co-producing "The Patriot," in which Gibson starred. "But he is an alcoholic, and while that makes no excuse for what he said, because there is no excuse, I believe it was the disease speaking, not the man."
Jodie Foster said she does not believe that drunkenness excuses hurtful remarks, but doubts claims that Gibson is prejudiced against Jews.
"Is he an anti-Semite? Absolutely not," Foster told the newspaper for a story in Friday's editions. "But it's no secret that he has always fought a terrible battle with alcoholism."
Though it was widely believed that Gibson has been sober since the early '90s, some people close to him say he has been on and off the wagon for years.
"I have been with Mel when he has fallen off, and he becomes a completely different person," Devlin said. "It is pretty horrifying."
Gibson was charged this week with two misdemeanor counts of driving under the influence of alcohol.
Foster, who co-starred with Gibson in "Maverick," said she believed he will recover from his latest fall.
Gibson "was a shining example of how low you can go when you are young and still pull yourself up," she said. "He took his recovery very seriously, which is why I know he is strong enough to get through this now."