"I don't drink these days. I'm allergic to alcohol and narcotics. I break out in handcuffs"
Real Name™: Robert John Elias
DoB: April 4th 1965 (04/04/1965)
Place of Birth: New York, N.Y. USA
Siblings: Allison Downey
Robert Downey Jr. is one of the most talented and charming actors of this generation, unfortunately at the height of his success he was cut down by a crippling drug addiction that has left him in virtual ruin, his family destroyed and his career in tatters.
Son of underground filmmaker Robert Downey Snr, he was born into a family of turmoil.
His father adopted his own stepfathers surname almost as is son was born in an attempt to escape their mixed origins and aid his career in one swift blow. Failing at his mission Robert Downey Snr. proceeded to accept far-flung projects wherever he could. He moved the family around constantly for the first years of his son's life, to such different paces as Woodstock and Greenwich Village amongst others.
At the age of five his father cast him in a minor role in his film 'Pound' (1970) as a puppy waiting to go to heaven. He was subsequently cast in four more of his father's films, appearing in brief cameos.
During this period he was introduced not only to world of film but to the drug world. According to Robert Jr. Whilst filming 'Greaser Palace' (he’s the lucky kid who's throat is slit by God) his father passed him a joint.
He was eight.
During his teenage years his family moved to California and Robert was enrolled in Santa Monica High School. Classmates at this time included Sean Penn and Emilio Estevez. Unlike them Robert did not stick it out. Despite excelling in school musical productions and amazing teachers (even stooping along the way to take tap dancing classes from classmate Ramon Estevez - the middle Sheen brother), he was not fit for school. With his fathers blessing he quit 11th grade and moved back to Manhattan where he moved in with his sister and began auditioning for everything going. In the meantime he waited on tables.
During this time he won his first major role, in the sentimental drama 'Firstborn' (1980). Even though this film gave him no glory he did meet, who some say was the love of his life, Sarah Jessica Parker.
They moved in almost immediately and spent the next eight years together.
Shortly afterwards his friend Anthony Michael Hall convinced Robert into joining him on Saturday Night Live. This stunt lasted for a year to no greater glory, although it did showcase his effortless comic ability and slightly off beat charm.
Meanwhile he carried on doing the rounds and as he recalls 'building a reputation' in the casting world.
He ate his way through the Brat Pack circle. From walking onto John Hughes audition for 'Wired Science' (1985) with nothing prepared, improvising from James Toback's carpet in his interview for 'The Pick-Up Artist' (1987) all the way to successfully impressing the casting crew for George C Scott's 'Mussolini: The Untold Story' miniseries despite his at the time purple hair.
His big break came when he co-stared in 'Less Than Zero' (1987), a much hyped film about the rich kids of Beverly Hills getting high.
His previous co-star in 'Tuff Turf' (1985) James Sapder mentored him through the production and showed him the ropes. Taught him how to spend his money, how to party, and where to find the drugs.
Less Than Zero presented Downey as a down and out coke addict. Many critics and members of the press refer to this role as a simple reflection of the real Robert. He denies this, yes he did drugs but "I was never where Julian was at, I never worked while I was high".
As the money started coming in so did the problems, Downey has refried to himself more than once as 'the millionaire that is always broke'. He had the car, the house and clothes but not a penny saved. Luckily work was not a problem, as the offers rolled in he chose to co-star alongside Mel Gibson in the flop 'Air America' (1990).
Soon after this a critic gleefully wrote that Robert Downey Jr. had replaced Rob Lowe
as the new Ali McGraw
. A harsh comparison in anyone but Robert's eyes. He was happy to be a bimbo
Soon after Air America's crash landing Robert stared in the marvellous ensemble comedy 'Soapdish' where he played the creepy soap producer trying to axe the show star Sally Field.
He also started to develop a project that never saw light of day a sci-fi flick in which he hopefully would have stared with Tony Curtis. Even though the film never made Robert and Tony had an instance bond. Even before that people were comparing the two. The minute they met as Robert says "I almost felt like saying 'Hi, I'm the new you'."
How right he was.
Even though his drug habits where slowly taking hold of his life at this point in time Robert Downey Jr. did nothing but work and continually amaze. His performance in 'Chaplin' (1992) was breath stopping and earned him an Academy Award nomination, as well as a staring role in Robert Altman's incredible drama 'Short Cuts' (1993).
At this point he had already split up with Ms. Parker and had found refuge in his newly pregnant wife Deborah Falconer whom he met on Robert Altman's set.
To greater acclaim and more glory Robert took his most controversial role as an Australian version of 'Geraldo' in 'Natural Born Killers' (1994). This role allowed him to showcase what he already knew: that he rocked the socks of anyone who dared try. As a proud father, loving husband and adored Hollywood boy Robert was definitely on the track to success. Over the next year he took roles in productions such as 'Richard III' (1995), 'One Night Stand' (1997).
Things could not have been better.
He had the world at his feet and even though there had been news of his drug habits whenever he was approached he assured and calmed the media that he was fine and that all his addictions were under wraps. He charmed the world into giving him break. He charmed himself into thinking everything was fine.
Sadly he could not charm he way past the LAPD.
He was arrested in June of 1996 for driving under the influence, for possession of controlled substances (crack cocaine, powder cocaine and black-tar heroin) and for possession of a concealed weapon (unloaded .357 Magnum).
He was released on bail.
Less than a month later he was found unconscious under the influence of a controlled substance on a child's bed in his neighbours house. The police were summoned and he was helicopter'd to hospital.
He was released bail under the condition that he checked into to rehabilitation and underwent periodic drug tests.
He agreed and promptly violated this condition by walking out.
In September of 1996 he pleaded no contest to the initial charges and walked out on bail. He was sentenced to a three year in prison but in lieu of this the judge fined him $250 and put him on three year probation instead.
Before his sentence he completed work on various films such as 'U.S. Marshals' (1998), Robert Altman's 'The Gingerbread Man' (1998), James Toback's 'Two Girls and a Guy (1997) - during the last film according to the previously mentioned conditions he took daily drug tests.
this probation was revoked when he it was determined that he had gone on a four day drug binge
He spent six months in county jail, during which he was allowed out to complete his work on 'In Dreams' (1998). This inflamed equal rights protestors but none the less he was released shortly after.
On his release he tried to claw back what little remained of his life. His wife tired of his misdemeanours and longing for a stable life for her and her son had filed successfully for divorce.
No studio wanted to touch him and he had become his own biggest liability.
He took a small supporting role in the Steve Martin/99 vehicle 'Bowfinger' and the lead in his friend James Toback's 'Black and White'.
In June 1999 he was again caught wandering in alley under the influence of drugs
He was sent to a rehabilitation centre for an August hearing
In August of 1999 due to three probation violations in three years after being previously spared a prison sentence Judge Mira had had enough. He recalled the suspended sentence and sent Downey to pay his dues.
Prisoner 50522 was transferred on August 25th of 1999 to the Department of corrections at Corcoran, California.
In July of 2000 his lawyers won an appeal for his release due the fact that the judge who sentenced him had not taken in to account the time already served. Downey was due for an early release.
In the meantime Downey was preparing. He gave away all of his possessions including his shoes He kept only his cigarettes and his garlic powder. These were his most prized possessions. He said good bye to his friends, Big Al, Figueroa Slim, Timmons and Sugar Bear.
In August of 2000 he was released.
In the space of seven days Robert changed his life yet again.
Led out of a back door he spent three days in a halfway house and walked out into the spotlight.
After months of listening to 'Brand New Day' on his Walkman Robert was called on stage at the Greek Theatre to sing with Sting.
The next week David E. Kelley offered him a part in the hit TV show 'Ally Mcbeal' as Calista Flockhart's love interest.
He began filming an Oscar seeking film with Michael Douglas, called 'The Wonder Boys' (2000). He was set for a stage production of Hamlet, to be directed by Mel Gibson. The winds off change came fast this time.
In November of 2000 he was yet again detained. Picked up at the Merv Griffen resort in Palm Springs, Downey was found with cocaine and methamphetemines.
The next morning he was released on $15.0000 bail.
In April of 2001, during a break in the filming of Ally McBeal he was arrested in Los Angeles for being under the influence of a controlled substance.
David E. Kelley fired him after hearing the news.
March of 2001 saw Mr Downey's lawyers unable to reach a plea bargain for his case.
He pleaded not guilty to all charges and is being held in a rehab centre until the case is decided.
Interview by Stephen Rebello (Moveline 1991)
Interview by Micheal Flemming - Mr Clean (Oct. 2000).