Robert Downey Jr., Mel Gibson

AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

Talk about having an iron skin.

In a surprise move last night, Iron Man star Robert Downey Jr. turned a gala in his honor into an effort to save Mel Gibson's career and bring the onetime A-Lister back into the Hollywood fold.

It all went down during the annual star-studded American Cinematheque tribute...

"Unless you are without sin—and if you are, you are in the wrong f---king industry—you should forgive him and let him work again," Downey said after Gibson presented him with the award before a packed ballroom at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

During his presentation, Gibson remembered being warned about hiring Downey for Air America in 1990 because of his troubled private life. Downey has always credited Gibson for being the first person in town who gave him a job during some of his years battling substance abuse.

Once he was accepting his honor, Downey spoke about that time, recalling that Gibson had told him to "help the next guy" once he was able to.

"It's reasonable to assume...he didn't imagine the next guy would be him," said Downey.

Gibson, who became notorious after arrest and his anti-Semitic rant, attracted skepticism most recently when it was announced that he's planning on directing a film about Judah Maccabee, the Jewish warrior who led the fight against the Seleucid Empire. Hanukkah marks the return of Jewish worship at a Jerusalem temple after he removed pagan statuary.

Jennifer Aniston, Jodie Foster, Jack Black, Jared Harris, directors Jon Favreau and Guy Ritchie, Jamie Foxx, Michael Douglas and CAA honcho Bryan Lourd were among the night's other presenters.

Now we want hear from you: Agree with Robert Downey Jr.? Should Mel Gibson be forgiven and given another chance? Sound off below.

PHOTOS: Check out Marc Malkin's exclusive red carpet pics

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