Lester Cohen / WireImage 1 / 5
Lester Cohen / WireImage 1 / 5

If there's one person who's still in Mel Gibson's corner, it's Jodie Foster. The actress is adamant that the man, who has notoriously spewed homophobic, anti-Semitic and racist remarks, as well as allegedly abused his ex-girlfriend, is a really good guy. Really. But how should we know? Jodie's been tight with Mel since they costarred in 1994's "Maverick," and she recently costarred with and directed him in "The Beaver," which premieres tonight at the South by Southwest film festival in Austin. Jodie sat down with The Hollywood Reporter to chat about Mel and the movie, plus another sullen star she knows well, Kristen Stewart. Read on for highlights.

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On what Mel's really like:

"God, I love that man .... He's so incredibly loving and sensitive, he really is. He is the most loved actor I have ever worked with on a movie. And he's not saintly, and he's got a big mouth, and he'll do gross things your nephew would do. But I knew the minute I met him that I would love him the rest of my life .... I know him in a very complex way. He's a real person; he's not a cardboard cutout. I know that he has troubles, and when you love somebody you don't just walk away from them when they are struggling."

On what he brought to "The Beaver":

"The performance he gave in this movie, I will always be grateful for [it]. He brought a lifetime of pain to the character that we've been talking about for years, that I knew was part of his psyche and who he is. It's part of him that is beautiful and that I want people to know too. I can't ever regret that."

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On Mel's rocky relationship with ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva:

"We talked about it all the way through, about what was going on in his life. I don't think he told me until it was something he couldn't handle by himself."

On filming the last day of reshoots with Mel on July 9, the day the tapes of his rants were released:

"He had a lot of work to do. It was a bad situation. His assistant called me: 'Come to the trailer!' And I went to his trailer, and he was a mess. Then he came on set, and he didn't have any makeup on, anything. He came in and sat down on the chair and said, 'OK, roll it,' and did two takes that were just beautiful. Then he got on the plane and left."

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On the only mishap that occurred while filming "The Beaver":

"It was a very big, emotional scene [where Mel is supposed to hit himself in the head with a lamp], the last thing we shoot in the entire movie, and his plane is waiting for him to leave. Our prop department messed up and didn't score the fake lamp properly; half of it was real, and when he smacked his head, it just -- whoosh! -- blood was gushing everywhere. We didn't have a medic. It was just me and the producer running around with a first-aid kit trying to stanch the blood, and Mel's like, 'Come on, it hurts!' Your head, it really bleeds. I can't tell you how many 'I'm so sorry' notes I sent."

On why she's only directed three movies during her career:

"I also had a big career as an actress, I had my production company, and I had two kids -- and I make really personal movies. The combination of those things conspired to keep me away from directing."

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On her "Panic Room" costar Kristen Stewart:

"I just love Kristen Stewart, but I didn't think she'd choose to be an actress. I said to her mom, 'She doesn't want that, right?' And she's like, 'Well, yes, she kind of does.' Because she's very much like me: She's not comfortable in life being a big, externally emotional person, beating her chest, crying every five minutes. I felt she was such an intelligent technician, so interested in camera -- I thought that would translate to other things."