Hollywood director Alejandro Iñárritu has insisted that Sean Penn's controversial comment about his immigration status at 2015 Oscars was nothing more than a "brutal" joke between old friends.
Penn raised eyebrows after he asked, "Who gave this son of a bitch his green card?" before announcing Iñárritu's "Birdman" as the film of the year.
But the Mexican-born star, who also took home Best Original Screenplay and Best Director for Birdman, insisted that he was not offended by the quip.
"I found it hilarious," Iñárritu said after the annual ceremony. "Sean and I have that kind of brutal (relationship) where only true friendship can survive."
"I make on him a lot of very tough jokes that I will not tell you" he added.
Although Iñárritu was able to make light of the remark, many viewers branded Penn "insensitive" to the plight of many immigrants in America and even went far as claiming Charlize Theron's partner had ruined the awards.
Entertainment Weekly's Nina Terrero even offered her two cents, accusing Penn of promoting racist stereotypes.
Iñárritu, who worked with Penn in the film "21 Grams," appeared to put the drama behind him when he later delivered a rousing acceptance speech at the end of Sunday's show. He attempted to pacify the uproar by dedicating his award to Mexicans and Mexican-Americans.
"I want to dedicate this award for my fellow Mexicans, the ones who live in Mexico," Iñárritu said.
"I pray that we can find and build the government that we deserve. And the ones that live in this country, who are part of the latest generation of immigrants in this country, I just pray that they can be treated with the same dignity and respect of the ones who came before and built this incredible immigrant nation."
In a surprise twist, Iñárritu continues to fly the flag for Mexican-born directors in the best directing category. In 2014, Alfonso Cuaron won that prestigious accolade for Gravity.