The life of every person in the world is certainly full of ups and downs. However, the characteristics are different, as many have experienced more highs than lows, while others have had very few highs to celebrate. The life of Robert Downey Jr. seems to fit into the former category, as he is one of the greatest movie stars in the world. His work has earned him great recognition, as he has become one of the most successful box office stars of all time. This, among many other achievements, gives the impression that he has taken a smooth path to success.
But before he became the globally recognized star he is today, Downing’s life was a big mess thanks to his roles as Charlie Chaplin in Chaplin (1992), Tony Stark/Eisenmann in the Marvel Cinematic Universe films, and Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock Holmes (2009) and its continuation in 2011 due to his fight against drug abuse. Those who are familiar with his story; how he didn’t lose his life and managed to turn things around to sober up, consider it a miracle.
How Robert Downey Jr Began Using Drugs
The namesake of Robert Downey Jr. has taken the main blame for his son’s drug use in the first place. It is said that the older Downey, who was also an addict, started giving drugs to his son when he was eight years old and the little boy grew up to become addicted to drugs.
“When my father and I used drugs together,” Downey Jr. is quoted as saying in an ABC interview, “it was like he was trying to express his love for me is the only way he knew.
Robert and his father were very close, and they connected through their shared interest in drug use. Before all that his father has regretted ever since, Downey Sr., who was an actor and filmmaker, gave his acting debut to his son when he was only 5 years old. He made his acting debut in 1970 in the comedy Pound, in which he played the role of the puppy.
The Effects of Substance Abuse On His Career
Robert Downey Jr. was doing very well for himself in the early stages of his career, a time, however, that was marked by severe drug abuse. By 1995, when everything fell apart over him, the actor had worked on over thirty projects, including Chaplin, where he won a BAFTA award and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor.
Between 1996 and 2001, Robert was arrested several times for drug offenses, including driving under the influence of drugs, trespassing, and possession of illegal substances. The first notable incident occurred in April 1996, when he was arrested for possession of heroin and cocaine after he was stopped speeding down Sunset Boulevard. At the time of his arrest, he was also carrying an unloaded handgun.
During his probation, Robert continued to use drugs. On one occasion, he entered a neighbor’s house without permission and fell asleep in one of the beds while under the influence of drugs. He was given three years probation for this and was also sentenced to a mandatory drug test, which he failed in 1997 and spent six months behind bars.
In 1999 Robert Downey Jr. failed another drug test and was sent to prison, this time for three years. However, he spent only one year in the California Drug Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison before he was unexpectedly released by a judge. By this time, the actor had lost more than a few appearances, most notably a narrator role in the NBC animated sitcom God, the Devil, and Bob.
After regaining his freedom, Downey took steps to get his career back on track. He did so with a role in the successful television series Ally McBeal. For his performance in the series, he received an Emmy Award and won a Golden Globe. It looked as if things were going to return to normal for the star until he was arrested in his hotel room during the Thanksgiving celebration in 2000. The police had been called anonymously to the set and they found out that the actor was under the influence of a substance. He also had Valium and cocaine in his possession.
A few months later, in April 2001, while on parole and after his stepmother revealed that he had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder years ago, Robert was found wandering barefoot in Culver City. He was arrested by police officers on suspicion of being under the influence of drugs but was released soon after. This cost him some of the roles he had at the time, including the role in Ally McBeal when he was released from the show. He was later sentenced to three years of probation and sent to a drug rehabilitation facility.
This last arrest proved to be an eye-opener for the actor, as he said he was tired of spending time in prison and was not willing to do so ever again. So he worked on getting clean and has remained clean ever since.
His Comeback and the Success He Enjoyed
After he left rehab in 2001, the first appearance Robert Downey Jr. could find was a role in the video for Elton John’s “I Want Love”. Two years later he landed his first big-screen project in The Singing Detective (2003). Other projects he worked on in the mid-2000s included Gothika (2003), Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005), Good Night, and Good Luck (2005), and Zodiac (2007).
In a 2008 interview with David Carr of the New York Times, Downey said he has been drug-free for the past five years. The actor was enjoying life to the full at the time and had just finished shooting two critically and commercially successful films: Iron Man (2008) and Tropic Thunder (2008). He received rave reviews for his performances in both films, especially for the latter, which earned him a nomination as best supporting actor for the BAFTA, Golden Globe, and Academy Awards. Also, Time Magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people in the world that year.
In the years that followed, Robert Downey Jr. made sure to stay clean and focus on his work. This enabled him to work on several blockbuster projects, especially those of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Together with his wife, he also founded his own production company, Team Downey, which has produced films such as The Judge (2014) and Dolittle (2020).
Interesting Details About Robert Downey Jr.’s Family
The drug addiction of Robert Downey Jr. has not only been a problem for him but also for his family. It is said that his repeated trips to rehab and prison were what caused his first marriage to fail. The actor was married to actress and singer Deborah Falconer in 1992. The couple, who have a son named Indio Falconer Downey (born 1993), stayed together until 2001 when Falconer left him after his last arrest. In April 2004 they completed the divorce proceedings.
In 2003, while estranged from his wife, Downey met producer Susan Levin on the set of the film Gothika. Things did not go smoothly for the couple as Levin twice refused the actor’s advances. Later she accepted his proposal and soon they went out together. Downey later proposed to Levin, and in August 2005 they exchanged vows and have been at each other’s side ever since.
Together, Susan Levin and Robert Downey Jr. raised two children; a son named Exton Elias Downey, born February 7, 2012, and a daughter named Avril Roel Downey, born November 4, 2014.