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Real Name: Robert Downey Jr.
Birthday: 04/04/1965
Place of Birth: New York, New York
Education: Santa Monica High School, Santa Monica, CA

 

Biography And Filmography:

Despite Oscar and Golden Globe nominations and the admiration of film critics and his acting peers, Robert Downey, Jr. has had a hard time in the movie business. After a brief initial success, drugs and alcohol dragged the actor into the abyss of addiction and rehabilitation that included years of drug abuse and jail time. But when he was onscreen, he was brilliant. His superb role of the loved silent film star in “Chaplin” (1992) earned him some of the highest honors of his career.

The actor was born on April 4, 1965, in New York City’s Greenwich Village. When he was only thirteen years old, his parents divorced and his father moved to the L.A. He worked as a busboy while appearing in off-Broadway plays like the drama “Alms for the Middle Class,” the musical “American Passion”. It was at this performance that he was spotted by a talent agent and flown to to Los Angeles where he was cast in a small role in John Sayle’s young teen drama “Baby it’s You” (1983) and Michael Apted’s family drama “Firstborn” (1984). 

A supporting role in "Weird Science" (1985) introduced him to Anthony Michael Hall, who encouraged him to join him at auditions for “Saturday Night Live” (1975- ). Both were added to the cast of what went down in “SNL” history as one of its worst seasons ever.  On film, he took a role as a charming college student in the Rodney Dangerfield hit "Back to School" (1986) before landing his first starring role as a smooth ladies man opposite Molly Ringwald in James Toback’s “The Pick-Up Artist” (1987). 

His breakthrough film came later that year with his role of cocaine addicted Julian in "Less Than Zero" (1987). It was no coincidence that he did such a great job with the role, as he was already on the edge and dangerously out of control in real life, and by the time the film was released he was going through his first drug rehab program for cocaine addiction. 

He appeared in more young teen and adult comedies before taking a decent role as a cheerful lawyer opposite James Woods in "True Believer" (1989). He then played the confused hero in "Chances Are" (1989), before appearing in the Vietnam war dark comedy “Air America” (1990), co-starring with Mel Gibson as a traffic helicopter celebrity hired to transport drugs from Southeast Asia. His off the cuff comedic style did well in the business of the big budget Hollywood movies. 

But the actor's big break came in the lead role of the movie “Chaplin” (1992), where he gave a powerful performance that moved Chaplin’s real life daughter to suggest that her late father had somehow come back to earth and helped the star perfect the role. His work earned him a Best Actor Oscar and Golden Globe nominations and a win at the BAFTAs.

More tabloid media interest was fueled by the end of his seven-year relationship with Sarah Jessica Parker in 1991, mainly over his drug usage, and his marriage to actress Deborah Falconer in 1992 after dating her for only two months. In 1993, the couple had a son, Indio. The actor returned to making movies with a role as an Australian talk-show host during a jail riot in Oliver Stone's "Natural Born Killers" (1994), and then a role as Marisa Tomei's lover in the romantic comedy "Only You” (1994). He then took a role in Jodie Foster's "Home for the Holidays” (1995) with Holly Hunter and Claire Danes.  

By now, Downey had gained a loyal following of fans, movie critics, and co-workers. But a June 1996 arrest showed that he was headed for more trouble. When stopped by police for speeding, they found drugs and an unloaded firearm in his car. He was ordered back to rehab and given three years' probation. He and his wife separated, and in December 1997 he missed several court ordered drug tests and was arrested and jailed. 

Once released, he appeared in "The Gingerbread Man" (1998) with Daryl Hannah, followed by a role as a womanizer confronted by a pair of lovers in "Two Girls and a Guy" (1998) with Heather Graham. Before he began serving a three year jail sentence for violating probation on a cocaine possession charge, he appeared as a documentary filmmaker's homosexual husband who makes a pass at Mike Tyson in "Black & White" (1999), then took the role as Michael Douglas' partying book editor in the drama, "Wonder Boys" (2000) with Tobey Maguire and Katie Holmes. "Wonder Boys" went on to win two Oscar awards and was nominated for several others.

He was released early from the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison in August of 2000. Robert found himself surrounded by forgiving supporters and fans, and immediately started getting offers for work. He too a recurring role as the romantic love interest of Calista Flockhart's "Ally McBeal" (1997-2002), winning an Emmy nomination and Golden Globe award. But by the end of the year he was back in trouble again, arrested on weapons and drug possession charges. In  2001, just before the end of the “Ally McBeal” season, he was arrested  in a drug filled Palm Springs hotel room. An upset David E. Kelley fired the actor and re-wrote the series' last episode, in which he was supposed to marry Ally McBeal. In July 2001, Downey was sentenced to three years probation, including one year in a drug rehab center.

Once he was released, his  friend  Mel Gibson helped jumpstart his career by casting him in his "The Singing Detective" (2003), about a writer suffering from a skin disease hallucinates musical numbers and paranoid plots. He was also cast opposite Halle Berry in the horror thriller "Gothika" (2003) with Penelope Cruz, playing a concerned psychologist who tries to determine if she is really crazy or just possessed by evil spirits. 

Word of his comeback spread like wild fire and he was hired and cast for three films in 2005, starting with the Steven Soderbergh directed "Eros" (2005), playing a stressed out 1950s advertising executive under the supervision of psychiatrist (Alan Arkin). George Clooney then cast him in a supporting role in "Good Night and Good Luck" (2005), where he played a member of Edward R. Murrow's news team trying to hide his secret marriage with a co-worker (Patricia Clarkson) as the press battles Sen. Joseph McCarthy. He then starred in, "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" (2005) with Val Kilmer, playing a thief brought to Los Angeles for an audition, only to find himself in the middle of a murder investigation.

His 2006 projects were independent films, but indicated that his talent had not only survived his drug problems, but had strengthened with his sobriety. He appeared in “A Scanner Darkly” (2006) about an undercover cop in the future who becomes involved with a dangerous new drug and begins to lose his own identity. He then appeared in “Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus” with Nicole Kidman, where Diane Arbus (Kidman) falls in love with Lionel Sweeney, a guru who introduces her to the hard working people who helped her become one of the most famous photographers of all times. 

Robert next appeared in the book adaptation of “A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints” with Shia Labeouf, a coming-of-age drama about a young boy growing up in Astoria, New York during the 1980s. As his friends end up dead, on drugs or in prison, he starts to believe he has been saved from their fate by various saints.

Next was the crime thriller “Zodiac” (2007), with Downey joining Jake Gyllenhaal to play a veteran police reporter involved in cracking a case. He kicked of the next year in the independent film “Charlie Bartlett”, about a rich kid who becomes the self-appointed psychiatrist to the student body of his new high school.  

The actor then appeared in several blockbusters including Ben Stiller’s “Tropic Thunder” (2008) with Jack Black, Matthew McConaughey and Tom Cruise, where through a series of freak occurrences, a group of actors shooting a big-budget war movie are forced to become the soldiers they are portraying. Next was the summer of '08 blockbuster super smash hit Marvel Comic film "Iron Man" (2008) with Gwyneth Paltrow, about wealthy industrialist Tony Stark who is forced to build an armored suit after a life-threatening incident, and ultimately decides to use its technology to fight against evil. 

Downey followed "Iron Man" with another action hero adventure film "The Incredible Hulk" (2008) starring Edward Norton and Liv Tyler about physicist Bruce Banner who takes flight in order to understand, and hopefully cure, the condition that turns him into a monster. Finally that year was the musical drama "The Soloist" (2008) about a schizophrenic, homeless musician from Skid Row, Los Angeles who dreams of playing at Walt Disney Concert Hall.

 

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