Is Jodie Foster Committing Career Suicide With Her Constant Support of Mel Gibson?

Mel Gibson has certainly created a lot more drama off-screen than on-screen in the last five years.

In 2006 the high-profile actor reportedly made a slew of drunken sexist and anti-Semitic slurs, hit headlines again last year when several tapes containing racist, derogatory and profanity-laced tirades were leaked online, and this year he pleaded no contest after being charged with misdemeanor spousal battery over a fight with former girlfriend, Oksana Grigorieva.

But there is still at least one person in Hollywood who has his back – Jodie Foster, who played Gibson’s wife (and directed) the upcoming drama “The Beaver,” and first costarred with the controversial actor in the 1994 flick “Maverick.”

“I love him and this is the man that I know who is loyal and a good friend and incredibly sensitive. He is probably the most beloved actor in Hollywood that I have ever worked with, and I’m not the only one saying that,” Foster said while promoting “The Beaver.” “I understand alcoholism in a very complex way, I understand rage in a very complex way – I wouldn’t be an actor if I didn’t. These are pieces of human behavior that we understand. I can’t defend his behavior, that is something that Mel can only defend. You can’t defend anybody’s behavior but when you have a friend who you love and who you know in the best of lights, when they’re suffering and struggling, you don’t run in the opposite direction.”

Yet in her constant support of Gibson – is Foster herself committing career suicide?

“Gibson has been hateful and obnoxious to the Jewish people and to women in general, to have this man as a ‘friend’ is a strange choice for anyone. But for Foster, the stakes are high,” pop culture expert Elayne Rapping told FOX411’s Pop Tarts. “Gibson’s actions go against the beliefs and feelings of most sensible people, but in Hollywood – where liberalism rules – they are especially controversial. Foster’s consistent support is puzzling; she could have easily said nothing at all. Now that she has chosen not to, she is in danger of having her loyalty to Gibson be associated with agreement with him, which is certainly going to hurt her professionally.”

Foster said Gibson was her first choice for the “Beaver” role as a depressed man who can only communicate with his family and peers through the beaver puppet he wears on his hand.

“If he was wrong for the part, it wouldn’t matter how much I loved him, there is no way I would hire him,” she continued. “I think he has an exceptional quality that is very difficult to find in actors.”

But is Gibson’s ruined reputation likely to hurt Foster’s much-loved film at the box office?

“While a handful people might be curious about Gibson returning to the screen after all his controversies, I think mainstream audiences won't be checking it out despite good reviews, largely because of the damage done to his public image,” Los Angeles editor of PopcornBiz blog Scott Huver predicted. “Jodie Foster’s support for Gibson as a friend certainly demonstrates her personal loyalty to a pal who seems to be in crisis, but it remains to be seen if aligning herself with Gibson so staunchly will have a backlash on her own career.”

Foster can only hope audiences cast aside their preconceived notions of Gibson, and flock to the theaters to for quality acting and a good story line.

“I actually have a film that is beautiful, that I’m really proud of and I’m incredibly grateful for Mel’s performance,” Foster said. “It’s an extraordinary performance and there isn’t anybody who goes to the theater, no matter how you feel about him, who doesn’t acknowledge what an extraordinary performance it is and who isn’t completely blown away and moved by it.”

So while the actress/director was more than happy to wax lyrical on Gibson, she wasn’t exactly happy to discuss working with another controversial director, Roman Polanski, on the upcoming “Carnage.”

“I don’t need to talk about that movie, we’ll just talk about this one, I think it is better anyway,” Foster added. “I’ll be back, we’ll all be back.”