Robert Downey Jr. is one of the most popular and highest-paid American actors in the industry. He’s known for his roles in a wide variety of films, such as Iron Man, The Avengers, Chaplin, and Sherlock Holmes. His career has been characterized by critical and popular success in his childhood, which was followed by a period of legal troubles and substance abuse before he became one of the most successful actors today.
He was listed by Time Magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2008. Forbes, on the other hand, listed him as Hollywood’s highest-paid actor from 2013 to 2015. Most of his films have grossed more than $14.4 billion worldwide. If you want to know more, read on as we are giving you more information about how amazing Robert Downey Jr. is.
Robert Downey Jr.’s Early Life
Robert John Downey Jr. was born in Manhattan, New York City, on April 4, 1965. Robert Downey Sr., his father, is also an actor and filmmaker, while Elsie Ann, his mother, was an actress. Their original family name was Elias, but it was changed by his father to enlist in the Army. He grew up in Greenwich Village.
When Robert Downey Jr. was young, he was surrounded by drugs. His father was a drug addict who allowed him to use marijuana at the age of six. This was an incident that his father later said he regretted. According to RDJ, drug use became an emotional bond between him and his father. Eventually, he started spending every night abusing alcohol and making lots of phone calls in pursuit of drugs.
RDJ also had minor roles in his father’s films during his childhood. He started his acting career at the age of five when he played a sick puppy in the absurdist comedy “Pound” in 1970. At the age of seven, he appeared in the surrealist Western “Greaser’s Palace” in 1972. He lived in England at the age of 10 and studied classical ballet as part of a larger curriculum. And as a teenager, he attended the Stagedoor Manor Performing Arts Training Center in upstate New York.
His parents separated in 1978. After that, he moved with his father to California. However, in 1982, RDJ dropped out of Santa Monica High School and moved back to New York to pursue an acting career full-time. When he first moved to Hollywood to chase his career in acting, he was roommates with Kiefer Sutherland, who he worked with in the 1988 drama “1969.”
Robert Downey Jr.’s Career Beginnings
It was in 1983 when RDJ began building upon theater roles. This includes the short-lived off-Broadway musical by Norman Lear called “American Passion” in 1983. He became part of the new, younger cast hired for Saturday Night Live in 1985. However, the following year, he and most of the new crew were dropped and replaced due to poor ratings and criticisms. In fact, Rolling Stone magazine named RDJ the worst SNL cast member in its entire run.
In the same year, RDJ had a dramatic acting breakthrough when he played as a sidekick of James Spader’s character in “Tuff Turf” and as a bully in “Weird Science” by John Hughes. His first lead role was in 1987 with Molly Ringwald in “The Pick-Up Artist.” Due to this and other coming-of-age films that he did during the 80s, he is sometimes called one of the Brat Pack.
He also played Julian Wells in 1987, in the film version of the Bret Easton Ellis novel “Less Than Zero.” His character was a drug-addicted rich boy whose life rapidly spirals out of his control. According to Janet Maslin in The New York Times, his performance was desperately moving. His role in this film drove him into films with bigger budgets, including “Chances Are” in 1989 and “Soapdish” in 1991.
In 1992, RDJ starred as Charlie Chaplin in “Chaplin.” This was a role for which he prepared extensively, which includes learning how to play the violin and how to play tennis as a left-handed. This role made him achieve an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor at the 65th ceremony of the Academy Awards.
In 1993, he also appeared in the movies “Heart and Souls” and “Short Cuts,” together with a documentary that he wrote about the presidential campaigns in 1992 called “The Last Party” in 1993. He starred in the films “Only You” and “Natural Born Killers” in 1994, and many more movies up to 1999.
Robert Downey Jr.’s Career Troubles
RDJ has been arrested numerous times from 1996 to 2001 on charges related to drugs, such as marijuana, cocaine, and heroin. He went through drug treatment programs unsuccessfully. He explained his setbacks by claiming to have been addicted to drugs since he was eight because his father had been giving them to him.
He was arrested in April 1996 for possession of cocaine, heroin, and as well as an unloaded .357 Magnum handgun while speeding down Sunset Boulevard. After a month while on parole, RDJ trespassed his neighbor’s home while under the influence and slept in one of the beds. He received probation for three years and was ordered to undertake compulsory drug testing. However, in 1997, he missed one drug test that was court-ordered. With that, he had to spend six months in the Los Angeles Country jail.
He missed another test in 1999, and he was penalized for three years in prison at the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility. During that time, his film projects had wrapped and were close to release. He was also hired to do the voice of the devil on the animated series “God, the Devil and Bob” but was fired because he failed to show up for rehearsals.
After spending about a year in the facility, he was unexpectedly freed when a judge ruled that his time in incarceration facilities had qualified him for early release. After he was released in 2000, he joined the cast of the hit television series “Ally McBeal,” where he played as the love interest of Calista Flockhart’s character. His performance in the show was praised and got him a nomination in the Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series category for an Emmy Award. Aside from that, he also won a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor in a mini-series or television film.
However, before the end of his first season on the television show, he was again arrested when his room at Merv Griffin’s Hotel in California was searched by the police who were responding to an anonymous 911 call. During that time, he was under the influence of a controlled substance and in possession of cocaine and Valium.
In April 2001, while on parole, an officer found him wandering barefooted in Culver City. With that, he was arrested for suspicion of being under the influence of drugs but was released after a few hours. After RDJ’s last arrest, the producer of Ally McBeal, David E. Kelley, and other executives ordered last-minute rewrites and reshoots and fired RDJ from the show. His last arrest cost him a lot of projects, and many directors were also disappointed as he’s a good actor. This includes director Woody Allen who wanted to cast him with Winona Ryder in his film “Melinda and Melinda” in 2005. RDJ was again sent into drug rehabilitation and received three years of probation.
Robert Downey Jr.’s Career Comeback
RDJ spent five years of substance abuse, arrests, rehab, and relapse. But after that, he was ready to work toward a full recovery from drugs and return to his career. He got his first post-rehabilitation acting job in August 2001, where he lip-synced in the video for Elton John’s single “I Want Love.” After that, he was also able to return to the big screen.
His real comeback movie was 2008′s “Iron Man,” which was his first career blockbuster/mega movie. It was then – as Hollywood bloggers, writers, and Downey fans will tell you – that the actor was back – and bigger than ever. It was great news, especially after seeing him self-destruct and just doing plain, stupid things. From there, his career took-off as never before. Critics and fans alike gave his movies a thumps-up. Could it happen again? Did he need another Iron Man? Interestingly, everyone knew there would be another (begin franchise) – but before that follow-up, Downey starred in 2009′s “Sherlock Holmes,” where proved that he was on a genuine career roll (or role).
“Iron Man 2″ quickly followed in 2010. Then in 2012, something quite interesting happened. A franchise within a franchise as Robert Downey Jr. became an Avenger (The Avengers) under his Iron Man character, and it too became a blockbuster. The following year, “Iron Man 3″ is out – yes, another blockbuster, and this is actually given good reviews by fans and critics. It was followed by “Avengers: Age of Ultron in 2015, “Captain America: Civil War” in 2016. “Spider-Man: Homecoming” in 2017, “Avengers: Infinity War” in 2018, and “Avengers: Endgame” in 2019.
No one has ever achieved such rapid, quick success with two sets of franchises (one a subset of the other) and so quickly. Despite the struggles that RDJ faced, he still managed to be one of the best actors in the industry today, which makes him really amazing.