Former Film.com Senior Editor, David Ehrlich, has a yearly tradition.
Robert Downey Jr. is one of the most popular actors in Hollywood today, but life hasn’t always been easy for the star. He’s been through some seriously difficult times before getting clean and sober, and becoming the lovable Iron Man we know him as today.
1. According to Robert, his dad was the one who first gave him marijuana when he was just 8. Robert Downey was a filmmaker and also gave the Jr. his first film role.
2. The family name was originally Elias, not Downey, but dad changed it in the 1950s.
3. As a child, Robert took ballet until he was 10 years old.
4. Robert was not a big fan of school and dropped out at 16 to pursue acting in New York. He later earned his GED while in prison.
5. While he was an extra for Girls Just Want to Have Fun he met Sarah Jessica Parker and lived with her for 7 years. Eventually his alcohol and drug use destroyed the relationship. “She tried to help me,” he has said. “She was so miffed when I didn’t get my act together.”
6. Robert has been married twice, and he tied the knot with his first wife after just 42 days of dating. Their son Indio is now 21.
7. A few years before he played Charlie Chaplin, Robert serendipitously bought Chaplin’s former house.
8. Downey studies Wing Chun, a Chinese martial art that he says helped him stay sober.
9. In addition to acting, Robert also released a jazz album in which he sings.
10. Early in his career, the actor worked as living art in a SoHo nightclub.
11. Downey’s breakout performance was as a cocaine addict in Less Than Zero. “Until that movie, I took my drugs after work and on the weekends,” he later explained. “Maybe I’d turn up hungover on the set, but no more so than the stuntman. That changed on Less Than Zero. I was playing this junkie-faggot guy, and, for me, the role was like the ghost of Christmas future. The character was an exaggeration of myself. Then things changed, and, in some ways, I became an exaggeration of the character. That lasted far longer than it needed to last.”
12. During his worst days, he once broke into his neighbor’s house and fell asleep, thinking that it was his own.
13. Today, Robert is married to Susan Downey, who he refers to as “the Mrs.”
14. Since taking on the role of Iron Man, Downey has become something of an off-screen hero. In 2015 he brought a 7 year old fan with a partially developed right arm his own bionic Iron Man arm.