Here, Robert Downey Jr., who turned 55 on April 4, served a dozen or so months at the turn of 1999 and 2000 for a number of crimes and offenses, including possession of heroin and cocaine and escapes from drug addiction.
For most of the inmates at Corcoran State Prison, he was not Robert Downey Jr., but prisoner number P50522. He was not yet a world-class star. The “False Sacrifice” directed by Robert Altman with his participation, or the 1992 biography of Charlie Chaplin directed by Richard Attenborough in 1992, for which Downey, playing the title role, received an Oscar nomination (he lost to Al Pacino, who then won a statuette for “The Scent of a Woman”).
In August 2000, a Variety reporter described visiting Downey Jr. in Corcoran with a hint of irony: “He’s sitting in the corner of a huge room guarded by three officers and smiling. It’s the same mischievous look we know from his movies. Robert’s face has a healthy glow, as if he was playing racket in the morning, and his eyes are bloodshot from lack of sleep. He lost a few kilos. He looks gangster in jeans and a denim prison coat, but underneath his denim he wears a white Emporio Armani T-shirt. ”
On an inclined plane
The police first arrested him in June 1996 when Downey Jr. he sped his black Ford Explorer along the Pacific Coast Highway overlooking the ocean in the distance. He was arrested for speeding, but when the car was searched, it was found to have heroin and cocaine in it, and an uncharged Magnum 357 pistol stuck under the seat.
It was the beginning of the descent down an inclined plane.
He was sent to rehab, from which he escaped in a Hawaiian shirt and hospital pants. They were sent to the next one, under more stringent supervision – he started again. He did not show up for routine urination, he broke the conditions of the hinge. Once, in the morning, neighbors found him unconscious in the bed of their 11-year-old son (who was on vacation at the time), because he had completely mistaken the houses.
While it seemed as if he was going downhill, in the life of Downey Jr. film producer Susan Levin appeared.
– This is one of those special marriages. They deal with so many different things that they don’t get in the way – said director Guy Ritchie, who worked with the couple on “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” and two films about “Sherlock Holmes”. – But on the other hand, their professional spaces are so related that they are on the same wavelength – he adds.
They met in 2003 on the set of “Gothiki”. Two years later they were already married, in 2012 their son Exton was born, in 2014 their daughter Avri. They developed a pattern of professional collaboration that worked well for both of them. They were together on the sets of “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang”, both “Sherlocks” (directed by Guy Ritchie), the sequel to “Iron Man”. Susan has produced almost every one of his films since they are together. He began to be treated as a serious guest, whom you can count on, get more and more engaging roles, more and more salaries.
His beginnings in Hollywood also looked very good.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Robert Downey Jr. he was in LA like Timothée Chalamet today – the hottest young actor in the industry. Journalists of serious newspapers were delighted with his talent, gossipers – with the boyish charm. It started with a brilliant role in the adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’s novel “Less than zero”, then in “Chaplin” he absolutely masterfully played the legendary director and his Vagabond.
Photo: Press materials
“I romanticize those years”
In “Less than Zero” he played himself, although at that time hardly anyone else fully noticed and understood it. The action of the film takes place in the environment of wealthy kids from Los Angeles. College student Clay returns to his hometown Beverly Hills during the break, meeting old friends who lead a carefree life filled with alcohol and drugs.
Robert Downey Jr., who turned 55 on April 4, does not remember exactly how old he was when his father gave him a twist to try. Six, maybe seven?
He grew up in the melting pot of the 1960s artistic revolt. The loft of Robert Downey Senior, a former amateur boxing champion and admired director, was populated by heroes of the independent scene such as Hal Ashby and Abbie Hoffman. When Downey Sr. after parting ways with Junior’s mother, Elsie, he moved to Los Angeles, began dating Peter Sellers, and partying with Jack Nicholson. The son was always with his dad.
“I have great memories of that time,” said Downey Jr. in the pages of Esquire. – Like I’m living in Boogie Nights. When I watch this movie, I always remember the first time I came to LA with my father and I fall into a sentimental mood. I romanticize those years, of course, because it was absolutely not a suitable place to grow up for a little boy – he said.
Downey jr. he played roles at his dad’s when he was a kid, but he quickly started working on his own. Attenborough was initially skeptical of the idea of hiring him (there were already rumors of his lush social life), but after questioning Downey Jr. he knew no one else in the role of Charlie Chaplin.
Unfortunately, the failures in the box-office sets went hand in hand with the artistic successes. No movie where Downey Jr. starred in the first phase of his career, did not earn a lot of money in cinemas. The “Back to School” (1986) or “Lonely in the Face of the Law” (1989), which received phenomenal reviews, especially for the performance of Downey Jr. Even his “Chaplin” was lost in cinemas. The film grossed just $ 9 million in the US, ranking a distant 96th place among the premieres of 1992.
This losing streak lasted for years, and later Downey Jr. dropped out of castings for consecutive rehabs and times of imprisonment. When the prospect of starring in a film that had a great chance of gaining mass popularity finally hit the horizon, he didn’t hesitate at all.
The creators of “Iron Man” had doubts.
Hits of all time
It was supposed to be their first solo superhero movie, and the plans from the start were that there would be more of them, that “Iron Man” was only the beginning of a venture that would be written for many, many years. An actor with a past like Downey Jr. it was quite a risk in this role. They had to give him a loan of confidence. Casting turned out to be decisive. During the auditions, he outclassed other actors.
And then, as we already know from history, he crushed the cinema competition. The first “Iron Man” grossed over half a billion dollars in cinemas worldwide and was the second most watched movie in the US in 2008. The second in the series in terms of earnings outperformed him, and the third made record profits of a billion two hundred million dollars in revenues, and Robert Downey Jr. With a salary of $ 75 million, he occupied the first place on Forbes’ list of the best-paid actors for two years in a row.
After “Iron Man”, “Incredible Hulk”, “Thor”, “Avengers”, “Captain America”, “Avengers: Endgame” and other superhero films from Marvel Studios entered theaters. All of them occupy a position in the forefront of the most popular films of all time.
Iron Man director Jon Favreau said in Esquire that Stark’s characters are as much the work of comic book writers and writers as Robert Downey Jr., who loves to improvise. Tony’s cheeky character goes hand in hand with heroism and distance.
Well, who could be better in the role of this superhero than the guy who became a millionaire in less than a decade after his release from Corcoran state prison, made a private life for himself, does what he loves and is universally adored for it?
What to watch when cinemas are closed? We suggest movies and series available on the web and we remind you of the iconic characters behind them.
Here are featured movies and series with Robert Downey Jr .:
– “Sherlock Holmes”, dir. Guy Ritchie; available on Netflix
– “Zodiac”, dir. David Fincher; available on Netflix
– “Avengers: The End of the Game”, dir. Anthony Russo, Joe Russo; available on HBO GO
– “Iron Man”, dir. Jon Favreau; available at VOD.PL