Being in Hollywood means having your name in the spotlight all the time. There is a constant pressure to always be “perfect.” However, for some famous Hollywood stars, they struggle to maintain their perfect image. While some crack under pressure and never rise again, there are others who face their personal problems upfront and turn their career around. Robert Downey Jr. is one of those actors.
From the mid 1980s to the mid 1990s, Downey rose to fame with an array of films. In 1985, he had a dramatic acting breakthrough when he played the character of Jimmy Parker, James Spader’s sidekick in the movie Tuff Turf. In the same year he was cast as Ian, a bully in John Hughes‘ Weird Science. In 1987, Downey finally earned his first lead role alongside Molly Ringwald in The Pick-up Artist. Two years later in 1989, Downey starred in the movie Less Than Zero where he played Julian Wells, a rich young drug-addict whose life rapidly spirals out of control. Downey has since described this role “like the ghost of Christmas Future,” as his drug habit that formed a few years later had resulted from him exaggerating this character of Julian Wells in his real life. In 1992, Downey starred as his greatest role up to date as he starred as Charlie Chaplin in Chaplin. He prepared extensively for this role as he learned how to play both tennis and the violin left-handed and he watched every Chaplin movie. This role gave Downey a nomination bid for the Best Actor award at the Academy Awards 65th ceremony but he did not win.
However, even with all this success, Downey had a dark and troubling life. Between 1996 and 2001, Downey was arrested numerous times for drug-related charges including heroin, marijuana, and cocaine. He went through several drug treatment programs but had unsuccessful results. 1999 was one of Downey’s worst years as he found himself in jail after missing another required drug test. He was also fired from the NBC animated television series God, the Devil and Bob, because he failed to show up for rehearsals. In 2000, he had a mini comeback as he was signed on to play the love interest of Ally McBeal in the hit television series, Ally McBeal. He was nominated for an Emmy for his role and he ended up winning the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor in a mini-series or television film. However, he got arrested again in November 2000 and by April 2001 his character had been written out of Ally McBeal due to his drug addiction and recent jail time.
After five years of living in his own hell, Downey was finally ready to work towards controlling his drug addiction. In late 2001 he returned to Hollywood in Gothika. Downey’s true return came in 2008 when he starred in two summer blockbusters: Iron Man and Tropic Thunder. Since then he has starred in two Sherlock Holmes films, an additional two Iron Man films, and The Avengers, and according to the International Movie Database (IMDB) website, there are rumors for third installments for both film series Iron Man and Sherlock Holmes.
This past Friday, Oct.10, Downey’s most recent project was released, The Judge. He stars as Hank Palmer, a big city lawyer who returns home, where his father (Robert Duvall), the town’s judge, is a murder suspect. His character sets out to determine the truth and reconnect with his estranged family. The Judge has already garnered a lot of positive buzz from reviews and critics.