Robert John Downey Jr: The World's Highest Paid Actor

About Robert John Downey Jr:


“The greatest thing my dad taught me came from when I called him from a phone booth and said, 'Hungry. No bus token. Please. Out of options.' He said, 'Pfft, get a job.” 


Robert John Downey, Jr. (born April 4, 1965) is an American actor whose career has included critical and popular success in his youth, followed by a period of substance abuse and legal troubles, and a resurgence of commercial success in middle age.

Making his screen debut at the age of five, appearing in his father Robert Downey, Sr.'s film Pound (1970), he appeared in roles associated with the Brat Pack, such as the teen sci-fi comedy Weird Science (1985) and the drama Less Than Zero (1987). Other films he has starred in include the action comedy Air America (1990), the comedy Soapdish (1991), and the crime film Natural Born Killers (1994). He starred as Charlie Chaplin, the title character in the 1992 film Chaplin, which earned him a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actor.


Early Life:
Downey was born in Manhattan, New York, the younger of two children. His father, Robert Downey Sr., is an actor and filmmaker, while his mother, Elsie Ann (née Ford), was also an actress, who appeared in Downey Sr.'s films. Downey's father is of half Lithuanian Jewish, one quarter Hungarian Jewish, and one quarter Irish, descent, while Downey's mother has Scottish, German, and Swiss ancestry. Downey and his older sister, Allyson, grew up in Greenwich Village.

As a child, Downey was "surrounded by drugs". His father, a drug addict, allowed Downey to use marijuana at age six, an incident which his father has said he now regrets. Downey stated that drug use became an emotional bond between him and his father: "When my dad and I would do drugs together, it was like him trying to express his love for me in the only way he knew how." Eventually, Downey began spending every night abusing alcohol and "making a thousand phone calls in pursuit of drugs".


During his childhood Downey had minor roles in his father's films. He made his acting debut at the age of five, playing a sick puppy in the absurdist comedy Pound (1970), and then at aged seven appeared in the surrealist Greaser's Palace (1972). At the age of ten, he was living in England and studied classical ballet as part of a larger curriculum. He attended the Stagedoor Manor Performing Arts Training Center in upstate New York as a teenager. When his parents divorced in 1978, Downey moved to California with his father, but in 1982 he dropped out of Santa Monica High School and moved back to New York to pursue an acting career full-time.

With Mother
Downey and Kiefer Sutherland, who shared the screen together in the 1988 drama film 1969, were roommates for three years when he first moved to Hollywood to pursue his career in acting.

Controversies:
1. Possession of Heroine:
In April 1996, Downey was arrested for possession of heroin, cocaine and an unloaded .357 Magnum handgun while he was speeding down Sunset Boulevard. A month later, while on parole, he trespassed into a neighbor's home while under the influence of a controlled substance and fell asleep in one of the beds. He was sentenced to three years of probation and required to undergo compulsory drug testing.


2. Missed Court-Order:
In 1997, he missed one of the court-ordered drug tests and had to spend six months in the Los Angeles County jail.


“I think you end up doing the stuff you were supposed to do at the time you were supposed to do it.” 

3. One More Arrest:
After Downey missed another required drug test in 1999, he was arrested once more. Despite Downey's lawyer, John Stewart Holden, assembling for his client's 1999 defense the same team of lawyers that successfully defended O.J. Simpson during his criminal trial for murder, Downey was sentenced to a three-year prison term at the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison in Corcoran, California (a.k.a. "Corcoran II").


At the time of the 1999 arrest, all of Downey's film projects had wrapped and were close to release, with the exception of In Dreams, which he was allowed to complete filming. He had also been hired for voicing "The Devil" on the NBC animated television series God, the Devil and Bob, but was fired when he failed to show up for rehearsals.

4. Possession of Cocaine:
Before the end of his first season on Ally McBeal, over the Thanksgiving 2000 holiday, Downey was arrested when his room at Merv Griffin's Hotel and Givenchy Spa in Palm Springs, California was searched by the police, who were responding to an anonymous 911 call. Downey was under the influence of a controlled substance and in possession of cocaine and Valium. Despite the fact that, if convicted, he could face a prison sentence of up to four years and eight months, he signed on to appear in at least eight more Ally McBeal episodes.


5. The Culver City Arrest:
In April 2001, while he was on parole, a Los Angeles police officer found him wandering barefoot in Culver City, just outside Los Angeles. He was arrested for suspicion of being under the influence of drugs, but was released a few hours later, even though tests showed he had cocaine in his system. After this last arrest, producer David E. Kelley and other Ally McBeal executives ordered last-minute rewrites and reshoots and dismissed Downey from the show, despite the fact that Downey's character had resuscitated Ally McBeal's ratings.


The Culver City arrest also cost him a role in the high-profile film America's Sweethearts,  and the subsequent incarceration forced Mel Gibson to shut down his planned stage production of Hamlet, as well. In July 2001, Downey pleaded no contest to the Palm Springs charges, avoiding jail time. Instead, he was sent into drug rehabilitation and put on a three-year probation, benefiting from the California Proposition 36, which had been passed the year before with the aim of helping nonviolent drug offenders overcome their addictions instead of sending them to jail.


“The lesson is that you can still make mistakes and be forgiven.” 

6. Relationships:
Downey started dating actress Sarah Jessica Parker after meeting her on the set of Firstborn. They separated in 1991 because of his drug addiction, according to Downey.


He married actress/singer Deborah Falconer on May 29, 1992, after a 42-day courtship, and had a son with her, Indio Falconer Downey, born on September 7, 1993 in Los Angeles County, California. The strain on their marriage from Downey's repeated trips to rehab and jail finally reached a breaking point; in 2001, in the midst of Downey's last arrest and sentencing to an extended stay in rehab, Falconer left Downey and took Indio with her. Downey and Falconer finalized their divorce on April 26, 2004.


7. Downey's Son Arrest:
On June 29, 2014, Downey's son Indio was arrested in West Hollywood, California, and taken into custody on felony cocaine possession charges after the car he was a passenger in was pulled over. When Downey bailed his son out, he stated that "Unfortunately there's a genetic component to addiction and Indio has likely inherited it. Also, there is a lot of family support and understanding, and we're all determined to rally behind him and help him become the man he's capable of being. We're grateful to the Sheriff's department for their intervention, and believe Indio can be another recovery success story instead of a cautionary tale.


Interesting Facts:
1. The future action star studied ballet at the age of 10.


2. In the early days of his career, the struggling actor bussed tables at a SoHo restaurant.

3. Gothika producer Joel Silver gave the toast at their wedding. The two would go on to collaborate on the Sherlock Holmes franchise.


4. In interviews, he refers to Susan as "the Mrs." and has her named tattooed on his arm.


5. Coincidentally, the star purchased the former home of Charlie Chaplin a few years prior to landing the role of the silent film legend.


6. He’s a hero off-screen as well. In March 2015, he presented a seven-year-old fan named Alex (who was born with a partially developed right arm) with his very own bionic Iron Man arm.


7. He never graduated from high school but earned his GED during one of his stints in jail.

8. When Robert Downey Jr. arrived in Japan for the premiere of his 2008 film 'Iron Man', he was detained at the Narita International Airport in Tokyo for his legal troubles in the past and was interrogated for six hours.

Achievements:
1. Robert has courted the Academy twice. He was nominated for a best actor for Chaplin in 1993 and best supporting actor in 2009 for Tropic Thunder.


2. He earned his first Oscar nomination for Best Actor for starring as Charlie Chaplin in 'Chaplin' (1992), a role for which he learnt how to play the violin and tennis left-handed. However, he lost the award to Al Pacino in 'Scent of a Woman'.

3. His performance in 1992’s Chaplin received the royal stamp of approval from Queen Elizabeth herself, who attended the London premiere in Leicester Square.


4. Team Downey, he and his wife’s production company, produced their first film in 2014. The Judge, starring Robert Duvall, who received a best supporting actor nomination.


5. He earned roughly $75 million between June 2013 and June 2014.

6. In October 2011, Robert’s friends, including Jennifer Aniston, Jodie Foster, Mel Gibson and Michael Douglas, paid tribute to the actor during a ceremony celebrating his American Cinematheque award.

 7. Robert Downey Jr. is the first and, so far, the only actor to win a Golden Globe for portraying Sherlock Holmes. He also won a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in 'Ally McBeal' in 2000.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_awards_and_nominations_received_by_Robert_Downey,_Jr.

The Story:
After spending nearly a year in California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison in Corcoran, California, Downey, on condition of posting $5,000 bail, was unexpectedly freed when a judge ruled that his collective time in incarceration facilities (spawned from the initial 1996 arrests) had qualified him for early release.


A week after his 2000 release, Downey joined the cast of the hit television series Ally McBeal, playing the new love interest of Calista Flockhart's title character. His performance was praised and the following year he was nominated for an Emmy Award in the Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series category and won a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor in a mini-series or television film.


He also appeared as a writer and singer on Vonda Shepard's Ally McBeal: For Once in My Life album, and he sang with Sting a duet of "Every Breath You Take" in an episode of the series. Despite the apparent success, Downey claims that his performance on the series was overrated and said, "It was my lowest point in terms of addictions. At that stage, I didn't give a fuck whether I ever acted again." In January 2001, Downey was scheduled to play the role of Hamlet in a Los Angeles stage production directed by Mel Gibson.


"Nothing's a break for me. Not even the breaks are breaks."

In a December 18, 2000 article for People Magazine entitled "Bad to Worse", Downey's stepmother Rosemary told author Alex Tresnlowski that Downey had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder "a few years ago" and added that his bipolar disorder was "the reason he has a hard time staying sober. What hasn't been tried is medication and intensive psychotherapy." In the same article, Dr. Manijeh Nikakhtar, a Los Angeles psychiatrist and co-author of Addiction or Self-Medication: The Truth (ISBN 978-1883819576), says she received a letter from Downey in 1999, during his time at Corcoran II, asking for advice on his condition. She discovered that "no one had done a complete [psychiatric] evaluation [on him]...I asked him flat out if he thought he was bipolar, and he said, 'Oh yeah. There are times I spend a lot of money and I'm hyperactive, and there are other times I'm down.'


In an article for the March 2007 issue of Esquire, Downey told author Scott Raab that he wanted to address "this whole thing about the bipolar" after receiving a phone call from "the Bipolar Association" asking him about being bipolar. When Downey denied he had ever said he was bipolar, the caller quoted the People article, to which Downey replied, "'No! Dr. Malibusian said [I said I was bipolar]...', and they go, 'Well, it's been written, so we're going to quote it.'


Downey flatly denied being "depressed or manic" and that previous attempts to diagnose him with any kind of psychiatric or mood disorder have always been skewed because "the guy I was seeing didn't know I was smokin' crack in his bathroom. You can't make a diagnosis until somebody's sober.


“I don't drink these days. I am allergic to alcohol and narcotics. I break out in handcuffs.”

With all of the critical success Downey had experienced throughout his career, he had never appeared in a "blockbuster" film. That changed in the middle of 2008 when Downey starred in two critically and commercially successful films, Iron Man and Tropic Thunder. In the article Ben Stiller wrote for Downey's entry in the 2008 edition of The Time 100, he offered an observation on Downey's commercially successful summer at the box office:

Yes, Downey is Iron Man, but he really is Actor Man ... In the realm where box office is irrelevant and talent is king, the realm that actually means something, he has always ruled, and finally this summer he gets to have his cake and let us eat him up all the way to the multiplex, where his mastery is in full effect.

Ben Stiller, The 2008 Time 100, entry No. 60, "Robert Downey Jr.


“Everyone has a story, and the story changes, and the more I can root into the truth of things — it's so hard — I don't think anyone ever really puts it all together. But somewhere along the way it all became fused.” 

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