Actor of the Week: Robert Downey Jr. – Hollywood’s Badass | Reel Movie Nation

“Robert Downey Jr.” In Lights

Born in New York City to actor/writer/producer Robert Downey Sr., Robert Downey Jr. seemed destined for show business. Downey Jr. developed an unconventional relationship with his drug addicted father at an early age, as the two of them would use together. Despite his early drug and alcohol abuse, Downey began acting in his father’s films. At the age of five, Downey Jr. had already made his acting debut, playing a sick puppy in Pound in 1970.

After starring in a few more of his father’s films as well as some theatre roles, Downey Jr. joined the cast of the weekly skit comedy television show, Saturday Night Live in 1984 at 20 years old. Although he was fired within the year, RDJ quickly gained some of his break out roles in Tuff Turf, and the more well known, Weird Science in 1985. In 1986, Downey Jr. starred alongside the hilarious and legendary Rodney Dangerfield in Back to School.

“Brat Pack” Certified

That same year, Robert starred in his father’s comedy, America, but it was his roles in coming-of-age flicks, such as The Pick-Up Artist (1987) alongside Molly Ringwald, that gained him membership to the “Brat Pack” and began to solidify his staying power in Hollywood. Downey Jr. is often referred to as a member of the young acting group in the 80s for starring in these types of films although sometimes intense theatre buffs don’t agree to including him in the “Pack”.

In 1987 Downey Jr. starred in Less Than Zero, another “Brat Pack” flick, but this time the rising star worked alongside future writer/director Andrew McCarthy. Next up for Downey Jr. was Johnny Be Good in 1988 with Anthony Michael Hall, another core member of the “Pack”.

Growing Up & Out of the Teen Genre

Towards the late 80s Downey Jr. began acting in films outside of the teen, coming-of-age, genre. In 1988 he starred in 1969, with the future Jack Bauer, Kiefer Sutherland. Although the war-drama wasn’t a huge stretch for Robert, it was the tipping point for more diverse roles. RDJ soon gained more recognition after starring in big budget flicks like Chances Are (1989) and Air America (1990).  In 1991, Downey Jr. starred alongside Sally Field, Kevin Kline and Whoopi Goldberg in Soapdish, while his character work in Chaplin gained him a British Academy Award for Best Actor.

A Personal Life Riddled with Drugs & Alcohol

Throughout the 90s Robert Downey Jr. starred in several successful films but his personal life wasn’t striving in the same fashion. His notorious drug problem, which started at a young age, continued to affect him throughout his adult life. RDJ has been arrested several times, on several different accounts, including his famous April 1996 arrest in which he had been in alleged possession of heroin, cocaine, and an unloaded gun while speeding down Sunset Blvd. After missing several drug tests and other parole violations, Downey was sentenced to three years in the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison in Corcoran, Ca in 1999. At the time, all of his filming had wrapped except for In Dreams, which he was allowed to finish shooting, starring alongside Annette Bening and Aidan Quinn.

After spending under a year at the California treatment center, a judge ruled that he had qualified for early release. In 2000, just a week after his release from jail, Robert joined the cast of the hit David E. Kelly law dramedy television show, Ally McBeal. He soon won a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor in a mini-series or television film. But before the end of his first season on the show, Downey Jr. was arrested again after cocaine and Valium were allegedly found on him in a hotel room. After another arrest in 2001, writer/producer of Ally McBeal Kelly decided to re-write and re-shoot many scenes and in turn, dismiss Robert Downey Jr. from the series despite his character’s boost in ratings.

Getting His Life Back On Track

After a life-long battle with substance abuse, rehab, relapse and arrests, it seemed by 2004 Robert had had enough. In 2003, Downey Jr.’s good friend Mel Gibson paid for his insurance bond for the film The Singing Detective which helped paved the way for his return to a full-time acting career. Also in 2003, Robert starred alongside Halle Berry and Penelope Cruz in Gothika, a creepy yet unmemorable thriller.

These roles, along with good behavior, earned RDJ several lead and supporting roles in the past nine years. In 2006, Robert starred in one of my personal favorite films, A Scanner Darkly, a unique and interesting film that ironically, has to do with drug abuse.

2008-Present: The Climb to the Top

Since, about 2008, Downey Jr. has starred in several blockbuster hits and shows no signs of slowing down. Ranging from the Ben Stiller directed Tropic Thunder to the Sherlock Holmes series and even to what is possibly Downey. Jr.’s biggest role in recent years in the Iron Man series, Robert reminds us why we fell in love with him in the first place.

Not known for being especially humble, Downey Jr. certainly has a way of lighting up the screen. From his distinct voice to his sarcastic attitude, it’s hard not to be drawn to such a handsome and talented thespian. Always seeming to nab the role of the charming yet shady badass, RDJ is one of Hollywood’s celebrities that you’ll often love to hate. With an Iron Man 3 already in post-production, it’s clear that Robert Downey Jr. is one superhero we’ll never get tired of seeing.

Make sure to check out Robert Downey Jr. in The Avengers, out in theatres now!


What’s your favorite Robert Downey Jr. film? Sherlock Holmes, Iron Man 2, Restoration or Richard III? Post your comments below.

Robert Downey Jr. Filmography/Upcoming Films:

  • Iron Man 3 (2013)
  • The Avengers (2012)
  • Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011)
  • Due Date (2010)
  • Iron Man 2 (2010)
  • Sherlock Holmes (2009)
  • The Soloist (2009)
  • Tropic Thunder (2008)
  • Iron Man (2008)
  • Charlie Bartlett (2007)
  • Lucky You (2007)
  • Zodiac (2007)
  • A Scanner Darkly (2006)
  • Good Night, and Good Luck. (2005)
  • Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)
  • Game 6 (2005)
  • Eros (2004)
  • Gothika (2003)
  • The Singing Detective (2003)
  • Wonder Boys (2000)
  • Bowfinger (1999)
  • U.S. Marshals (1998)
  • Hugo Pool (1997)
  • Two Girls and a Guy (1997)
  • One Nigh Stand (1997)
  • Danger Zone (1996)
  • Restoration (1995)
  • Home for the Holidays (1995)
  • Richard III (1995)
  • Only You (1994)
  • Natural Born Killers (1994)
  • Heart and Souls (1993)
  • Chaplin (1992)
  • Soapdish (1991)
  • Too Much Sun (1990)
  • Air America (1990)
  • True Believer (1989)Robert Downey Jr.
  • That’s Adequate (1989)
  • 1969 (1988)
  • Johnny Be Good (1988)
  • Less Than Zero (1987)
  • America (1986)
  • Back to School (1986)
  • Tuff Turf (1985)
  • First Born (1984)
  • Baby It’s You (1983)
  • Up the Academy (1980)
  • Pound (1970)

‘The Avengers’ Movie Trailer