Robert Downey Jr. scripts a Hollywoodian comeback story

May 18th, 2008 - 9:18 am ICT by admin  

By Sevanand Gaddala
This could be the Hollywood comeback story of the year. “Iron Man” is this summer’s first blockbuster and critics agree that it largely has to do with its star Robert Downey Jr. Things weren’t always this great for Downey Jr. For years he was Hollywood’s tragic tale of drug addiction and immense talent going to waste. The acclaimed Woody Allen couldn’t even afford to hire him for his movie because Downey’s insurance would cost too much. Downey Jr. along with Sean Penn and Nicolas Cage is considered one of the best actors of his generation, and if he hadn’t wasted away the past decade, he could have surpassed them to become the undisputed best actor of his generation. He first showed his true potential in the Richard Attenborough directed “Chaplin” in 1992, and it has taken him almost 15 years to return to delivering on that promise of greatness again. He started out in comedies like “Weird Science” (1985) and “Back To School” (1986). But it was his performance in “Less Than Zero” (87) playing a rich drug addict resorting to prostitution that made everyone take notice. But he followed this up with more comedies like “Soapdish (91), “Heart and Souls” (93), and “Only You” (94).

The success of “Chaplin” should have been the perfect starting point for him. But he soon started having legal problems and it has been a downward spiral since then. In 1996, he was stopped by the police and was caught with drugs and a firearm in the car. He was admitted to rehab and somehow managed to continue working in films. But he was arrested again for missing mandatory drug tests. He was once even found unconscious on his neighbour’s lawn. The lowest point must have been when he went into his neighbour’s house and slept in a child’s bedroom thinking it was his house. That same year in 1996, he was arrested for driving down Sunset Boulevard - naked. Downey Jr. continued to walk in and out of rehab the following years.

He had an attempted comeback starring in the hit TV show “Alley McBeal” but his problems persisted and had to be fired. Things truly only began to change for him when he starred opposite Halle Berry in “Gothika” in 2002. He met executive producer Susan Levine and since then she has been the pivotal force in turning his life around. They are now married and she remains his anchor both personally and professionally.

Downey Jr. was an unlikely choice to play a superhero as he did in “Iron Man”. But he desperately wanted the role. The director Jon Favreau says, “He’s somebody who’s had it, lost it and now has it again, and it’s like a pit bull who’s got his jaws on a chew toy. Nothing will take this away from him.”

The movie’s success and the stability in his personal life is thrilling news for movie aficionados. Film fans expect great things from him as he takes on roles like playing an actor in the comedy “Tropic Thunder”, and a schizophrenic violinist in “The Soloist” co-starring Jamie Foxx. The rest of the world will soon hear of Robert Downey Jr.

(Sevanand Gaddala can be contacted at )

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