Skip to main content

Robert Downey Jr.: Pure awesomeness

By Lisa Respers France, CNN
updated 7:35 AM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
Robert Downey Jr., the star in Walt Disney Pictures' "Iron Man" franchise, seems to have quite a bit in common with the main character, Tony Stark. The actor has a comeback tale of his own. Robert Downey Jr., the star in Walt Disney Pictures' "Iron Man" franchise, seems to have quite a bit in common with the main character, Tony Stark. The actor has a comeback tale of his own.
HIDE CAPTION
Robert Downey Jr.'s highs and lows
Robert Downey Jr.'s highs and lows
Robert Downey Jr.'s highs and lows
Robert Downey Jr.'s highs and lows
Robert Downey Jr.'s highs and lows
Robert Downey Jr.'s highs and lows
Robert Downey Jr.'s highs and lows
Robert Downey Jr.'s highs and lows
Robert Downey Jr.'s highs and lows
Robert Downey Jr.'s highs and lows
Robert Downey Jr.'s highs and lows
Robert Downey Jr.'s highs and lows
Robert Downey Jr.'s highs and lows
Robert Downey Jr.'s highs and lows
Robert Downey Jr.'s highs and lows
Robert Downey Jr.'s highs and lows
Robert Downey Jr.'s highs and lows
Robert Downey Jr.'s highs and lows
Robert Downey Jr.'s highs and lows
Robert Downey Jr.'s highs and lows
Robert Downey Jr.'s highs and lows
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Robert Downey Jr. has transformed his life
  • The actor went from troubled star to superstar
  • He is reportedly reprising Iron Man role in "Captain America 3"

Editor's note: A version of this story was first published in May 2013.

(CNN) -- Bravo to you, Robert Downey Jr.

The actor has transformed from a man who fans once feared would lose his life to substance abuse to a megastar who also happens to be a devoted husband and father. The wisecracking playboy daredevil has taken a back seat to a witty man enthralled with the woman in his life and clearly focused on his work.

Sound familiar?

It's hard to tell whether Robert Downey Jr. is channeling Tony Stark or whether moviegoers are buying into the actor's portrayal of "Iron Man" because the character is not that much of a stretch. And we aren't the only ones who think so. EW posed the question "Anyone else got a sneaking suspicion that Robert Downey Jr. and Tony Stark are actually the same person?" in a story about his 2013 appearance on "The Daily Show."

Robert Downey Jr. talks 'Iron Man 3'

With the Internet going gaga over reports that the actor is in final negotiations to appear as Iron Man in "Captain America 3," we can yet again marvel at the fact that there was a time when Downey was beyond down and out in Beverly Hills. In fact, he was pretty much the Lindsay Lohan of his time: an incredibly talented artist who seemed to attract trouble the moment he stepped out the door.

Report: Robert Downey Jr. to suit up for major role in 'Captain America 3'

He reportedly had his first experience with drugs at age 6 when his father, director Robert Downey, gave him a toke of marijuana (years later, the elder Downey would confess to regretting that decision.) In the 1980s, roles in films like "Less Than Zero" and "The Pick-up Artist" gave him honorary status in the Brat Pack, a group of hot young actors who dominated the movie scene.

He also had a highly publicized romance with Sarah Jessica Parker, who would go on to find fame as the star of "Sex and the City." But for all his luck in love and on screen (a turn as the iconic Charlie Chaplin in the 1992 film "Chaplin" earned him a best actor Oscar nomination) the dark side of show business resulted in multiple arrests for everything from driving under the influence to gun possession.

"It's like I have a shotgun in my mouth, and I've got my finger on the trigger, and I like the taste of the gunmetal," the actor famously told a judge in 1999.

His lifestyle not only took a toll on his reputation (he became fodder for jokes when in 1996, after a night of partying, he wandered into a neighbor's home in Malibu and fell asleep in a child's bed), it helped end his relationship with Parker.

"I was so selfish," he said in a 2008 interview. "I liked to drink, and I had a drug problem, and that didn't jibe with Sarah Jessica, because it is the furthest thing from what she is. She provided me a home and understanding. She tried to help me. She was so miffed when I didn't get my act together."

Even a stint on the then very popular show "Ally McBeal" didn't stop his addiction, and in 2001, he was fired from the series after yet another drug arrest.

But like Tony Stark, Downey wrapped himself in the armor of his work and pulled himself out of the depths of addiction. By 2005, he had critics raving with his performance in films like "Wonder Boys" and "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang." That same year he married producer Susan Levin, whom he met when she served as a producer on the 2003 movie "Gothika."

Levin (now Susan Downey) told Harper's Bazaar that she made it clear to her now-husband that he would have to clean up his act.

"I did meet Darth Vader (what she calls his troubled persona), for like a minute," she said, "right after the movie wrapped, and I said immediately, 'This isn't gonna work.' I made it clear that to stay with me, nothing could happen."

The couple became parents of a son in 2012 and announced in July 2014 that they were expecting their second child. Downey also has an older son from a previous marriage.

Celebs expecting in 2014

Such stability has clearly helped Downey reach the pinnacle where there is awards buzz for his new film "The Judge." It's no wonder Buzzfeed produced a piece titled "32 reasons Robert Downey Jr. is the most perfect man in the universe."

"You're very handsome; don't let anyone tell you different," Jimmy Kimmel said to the actor, to which he responded: "They don't."

"Iron Man" co-star Gwyneth Paltrow went so far as to rank Downey's Stark above another popular movie superhero, the "Man of Steel."

"(Tony Stark's) gorgeous," Paltrow said. "I'm still not convinced with the man in tights and the cape."

And with all Downey's toughness, resilience and charm, it's no wonder "The Daily Show's" Jon Stewart had a straight face when he told the actor, "You are Iron Man. You are."

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT