Born in Manhattan, New York, on April 4, 1965, Robert Downey Jr. made his debut as an actor at the age of five in the film Pound (1970), written and directed by his father, Robert Downey Sr., and since that early role, Robert Downey Jr. has amassed an enviable list of credits and honors throughout a four-decades-plus career that shows no signs of slowing.
Downey Jr.'s laurels include two Academy Award nominations, three Golden Globe wins, numerous other award nominations and wins, and tremendous popular and commercial success, particularly in his roles as Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock Holmes (2009) and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011) and as Tony Stark in Iron Man (2008), Iron Man 2 (2010), The Avengers (2012) and the in-production Iron Man 3 (2013). Downey Jr. is married to Susan Downey and has two sons (one from a previous marriage).
Born to writer, director and filmographer Robert Downey Sr. and actress Elsie Downey, Downey Jr. and his sister Allyson were immersed in film and the performing arts from a very young age, leading Downey Jr. to study at the Stagedoor Manor Performing Arts Training Center in upstate New York before moving to California with his father following his parents' 1978 divorce. In 1982, he dropped out of Santa Monica High School to pursue acting full time. Downey Sr., himself a drug addict, exposed his son to drugs at a very early age, and Downey Jr. would go on to struggle with abuse for decades.
Downey Jr. built his film repertoire throughout the 1980s and 1990s with roles in Tuff Turf (1985), Weird Science (1985), True Believer (1989), Chaplin (1992), Natural Born Killers (1994) and Wonder Boys (2000) among many others, but the actor's drug-related problems escalated from 1996 to 2001, leading to numerous arrests, rehab visits and incarcerations, and he was eventually fired from the hit TV series "Ally McBeal" (1997).
Emerging clean and sober in 2003, Downey Jr. began to rebuild his career with roles in Gothika (2003), Good Night, and Good Luck. (2005) and A Scanner Darkly (2006), and then in 2008 he began a period of remarkable productivity, with starring roles in a string of very successful blockbusters including Tropic Thunder (2008) and the films of the Iron Man, Avengers and Sherlock Holmes franchises.
In 2005, Downey Jr. married Susan Downey (I), who gave birth to their son, Exton Elias Downey, on February 7, 2012. Downey also has another son, Indio Falconer Downey, born September 7, 1993, from his first marriage to Deborah Falconer, from whom he was officially divorced in 2004.
In addition to acting, Downey Jr. has also pursued a singing career, releasing a 2004 album called "The Futurist", and in 2010, he and his wife established their own production company, Team Downey.Robert Downey Jr. has evolved into one of the most respected actors in Hollywood. With an amazing list of credits to his name, he has managed to stay new and fresh even after three decades in the business. In 1992, Downey received an Academy Award nomination and won the BAFTA (British Academy Award) for Best Actor for his performance in the title role of Chaplin (1992).
After Downey's three violations of probation for drug and alcohol abuse in a three-year span of time since he was spared a prison sentence and placed on probation, Malibu Judge Lawrence Mira stated that he was out of options. He was sentencing Downey to prison, he said, to save his life, because he would not take the responsibility of refraining from alcohol and drug use on his own.
The Judge invoked the three years' sentence in state prison that had been suspended in 1996. Downey, Dept of Corrections #P50522, spent two weeks in a state prison reception center at Wasco, California, for orientation. On 8/25/99, he was transferred to a Dept. of Corrections prison named "SATF" (Substance Abuse Treatment Facility) for drug dependent prisoners in Corcoran California. Scheduled release date: 11/2/2000. SATF is across the street from the other Corcoran Prison, where inmates were shot to death on the exercise yard during fights in the 1990s. Downey's lawyers have approached the Malibu judge several times in the last 11 months to request Downey's release, but the Judge has refused. [6 August 1999]
Downey's lawyers petitioned the State Court of Appeals in Los Angeles, stating that Downey had already served enough time because the Malibu judge had made errors in calculating his sentence. He hadn't given credit for the several times Downey spent in lockdown rehab units and in pre-sentencing confinement. Downey's lawyers claimed that he should have been released in February 2000.
During his days of drug addiction, Robert once wandered into a stranger's house and passed out on a child's bed. Downey re-arrested on drugs and weapons charges in Palm Springs, California, at the luxurious Merv Griffin resort, after an anonymous tip to police. Downey was found alone, with cocaine and methamphetamines. He cooperated with police, spent the night in jail, and was released the next morning on $15,000.00 bail. Downey had been on a career upswing with his successful stint on "Ally McBeal" (1997), and his upcoming stage performance as Hamlet, set for January, 2001 in Los Angeles, to be directed by his friend Mel Gibson.
As soon as I started smoking heroin instead of smoking coke, everything was different, and I knew it was. And it happened around the time I was doing Home for the Holidays (1995). Home for the Holidays is, for me, one of the most relaxed performances in the history of cinema. I can't attribute that to the fact that I was at a serene place in my life, or that there was a real warm feeling on the set. This is a problem for me because I glamorize this stuff. I can't say that it wasn't real dark, real evil and real hurtful to those around me. And yet, practically every take of that film was a print. God bless Jodie Foster. When does she have time to do a handwritten letter telling someone how she genuinely cares about them? She said, "Listen, I'm not worried about you on this film. You're not losing it or nodding out, and you're giving a great performance. I'm worried about your thinking you can get away with doing this on another film."
Richard III (1995) $50,000
Danger Zone (1996) $500,000
Game 6 (2005) $100/day
Iron Man (2008) $500,000
Sherlock Holmes (2009) $9,000,000
Iron Man 2 (2010) $10,000,000
Due Date (2010) $12,000,000
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011) $15,000,000
The Avengers (2012) $50,000,000 (once box-office bonuses and backend compensation are factored in)
Robert Downey Jr. has sung on several soundtracks in his films such as Chaplin, Too Much Sun, Two Girls and a Guy, Friends and Lovers, The Singing Detective and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. He released a CD in 2004 called The Futurist, and while promoting his film Tropic Thunder, he and his co-stars Ben Stiller and Jack Black were back up singers "The Pips" to Gladys Knight singing "Midnight Train to Georgia".
Downey's most commercially successful recording venture to date (combining sales and radio airplay) has been his remake of the 1973 Joni Mitchell Christmas song "River", which was included on the Ally McBeal tie-in album Ally McBeal: A Very Ally Christmas, released in 2000; Downey's character Larry Paul performs the song in the Ally McBeal episode "Tis the Season". The song receives heavy radio airplay annually during the Christmas season.