With his drawling voice, self-confidence and a collection of sunglasses, Robert Downey Jr. is best-known for his titular role in Iron Man. But the road to the iron suit and the glory it has brought him was one long and winding highway.
Born in 1965 to actor parents, he made his debut at the age of five in the film Pound, which was written and directed by his father, Robert Downey Sr. Unfortunately, his dad also introduced him to drugs and they were to condition his life throughout his twenties and thirties.
A seven-year relationship with Sarah Jessica Parker (Sex and the City) in the eighties came to an end because of his addiction to drugs and alcohol. The early nineties saw him marrying Deborah Falconer and becoming a dad, as well as receiving critical acclaim. Yet, his battle with illegal substances got worse, undermining all that he had achieved.
He worked with great names such as the late director, Robert Altman (Short Cuts, 1993 and The Gingerbread Man, 1998). His performance in Chaplin (1992) won him a BAFTA and a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Actor. In the historical drama, Restoration (1995), showing brilliance and versatility in portraying the worldly physician, Robert Merivel, his repertoire of facial expressions dominated by dark soulful eyes arrests the audience. However, 1996 unfortunately saw him arrested for possession of drugs and an unloaded handgun whilst speeding down Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. Arrests, rehab and even a spell in prison highlighted his early thirties.
In 2000, he joined the successful television series Ally McBeal, for which he received a nomination for an Emmy Award, as well as winning a Golden Globe. Despite this, he got into more trouble and after another arrest in 2001 was fired from the series.
Shaken out of the spiral of abuse, he made a debut in music in 2004, when his album The Futurist was released on the Sony Classics Label. That year, Falconer sued for divorce and in 2005, he married producer Susan Levin, with whom he has two children. They met on the set of Gothika (2003) and opened the production company, Team Downey together in 2010.
Worldwide success came with his first portrayal of Tony Stark in Iron Man (2008) and his various references to this character indicate it might be his favourite role. That year, he was listed as one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time Magazine. Moreover, he is to be praised for his noteworthy performances as the eccentric Holmes in both Sherlock Holmes and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.
One of his latest releases, The Judge, sees him not only starring but also taking on the role of executive producer in Team Downey’s first film production.