Jodie Foster has said it was "natural" for her to ask troubled star Mel Gibson to appear in her new film.
The actor, who has faced accusations of racism, homophobia and anti-semitism, appeared in court this year on a battery charge after a complaint from ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva.
He plays Walter Black, a depressed executive at a toy firm, who uses a beaver hand puppet to communicate in The Beaver, which Jodie directs and also stars in.
The Silence of the Lambs actress, who will be at the Cannes Film Festival this week promoting the film, said: "Walter Black and the beaver had to be somebody who could fully understand and communicate comedy and tragedy at the same time.
"I've been friends with Mel for over 15 years and we've had many, many long discussions about life and so it was a natural place to go."
Mel said: "Jodie called me up and asked if I would help her out and, of course, I love her to death and I wanted to work with her again and I liked the material, so off we went."
Jodie, who starred with Mel in the 1994 western Maverick, plays his wife Meredith in the new film.