Foster defends Gibson role in her new movie

Kelley Shannon

Actor and director Jodie Foster has defended her choice of Mel Gibson for the lead role in her movie The Beaver, saying she had "no regrets" about hiring him.

"Obviously all sorts of stuff happened after the film was finished," she said in a question-and-answer session following the movie's premiere at Austin's South by Southwest arts festival yesterday. "I certainly have no regrets about him being in the film and his performance."

Foster's drama was delayed for months beyond its planned debut last year.

The postponement came after a series of audiotapes were posted on celebrity website of a man, widely believed to be Gibson, making a racial slur and sexist comments to his ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva.

Neither Gibson nor his representatives have confirmed he made the comments but they have not denied it either. Only last week he pleaded no contest to a charge of domestic abuse linked to his bitter break-up with Grigorieva.

Throughout his troubles, Foster has defended her long-time friend and at yesterday's premiere, she told the audience she felt "incredibly grateful" for Gibson's performance.

The Beaver tells the story of deeply depressed Walter Black (Gibson), his wife (Foster) and teenage son (Anton Yelchin) who do not understand the pain he is in.

He finds a beaver puppet one day in a trash dumpster and, when he slips it on to his hand, he is able to communicate more easily in the voice of the animal.

At its heart, the movie explores complex issues surrounding depression and the impact it has on people and families.