Robert John Downey Jr. is an American actor, producer, and singer. The actor is a bonafide movie star in every nook and cranny of the planet, known everywhere as the iconic Marvel superhero, Iron Man and his alter-ego, Tony Stark.
Downey was born in Manhattan, New York City, on April 4, 1965.
His father, Robert Downey Sr., is an actor and filmmaker, while his mother, Elsie Ann (née Ford), was an actress who appeared in Downey Sr.’s films.
His career has been characterized by critical and popular success in his youth, followed by a period of substance abuse and legal troubles, before a resurgence of commercial success in middle age.
In 2008, Downey was named by Time magazine among the 100 most influential people in the world, and from 2013 to 2015, he was listed by Forbes as Hollywood’s highest-paid actor.
His films have grossed over $14.4 billion worldwide, making him the second highest-grossing box-office star of all time.
At the age of five, he made his acting debut in Robert Downey Sr.’s film Pound in 1970.
He subsequently worked with the Brat Pack in the teen films Weird Science (1985) and Less Than Zero (1987).
In 1992, Downey portrayed the title character in the biopic Chaplin, for which he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor and won a BAFTA Award.
Following a stint at the Corcoran Substance Abuse Treatment Facility on drug charges, he joined the TV series Ally McBeal, for which he won a Golden Globe Award
However in the wake of two drug charges, one in late 2000 and one in early 2001, he was fired and his character terminated.
He stayed in a court-ordered drug treatment program shortly after and has maintained his sobriety since 2003.
Initially, bond completion companies would not insure Downey, until Mel Gibson paid the insurance bond for the 2003 film The Singing Detective.
He subsequently went on to star in the black comedy Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005), the thriller Zodiac (2007), and the action comedy Tropic Thunder (2008); for the latter he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
Downey gained wider recognition for starring as Tony Stark / Iron Man in ten films within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, beginning with Iron Man (2008).
He has also played the title character in Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes (2009), which earned him his second Golden Globe, and its sequel (2011).
Downey has described his religious beliefs as “Jewish Buddhist”, and he is reported to have consulted astrologers. In the past, Downey has been interested in Christianity and the Hare Krishna movement.
Downey maintains that he has been drug-free since July 2003, and has credited his wife with helping him overcome his drug and alcohol habits, along with his family, therapy, meditation, twelve-step recovery programs, yoga, and the practice of Wing Chun kung fu, the martial art he learned from Eric Oram, who is also a fight consultant in several of Downey’s movies. Oram was Downey’s personal fight coordinator in Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America: Civil War. In December 2015, Downey received a full and unconditional pardon from Governor of California Jerry Brown for his prior drug convictions. Oram wrote a letter in support of Downey’s pardon to Governor Brown. When asked why he was able to make his sobriety stick this time on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Downey said, “It’s really not that difficult to overcome these seemingly ghastly problems. What’s hard is to decide to do it.”
Downey has sung on several soundtracks for his films, including for Chaplin, Too Much Sun, Two Girls and a Guy, Friends and Lovers, The Singing Detective, and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. In 2001, he appeared in the music video for Elton John’s song, “I Want Love.” 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”.
On June 14, 2010, Downey and his wife Susan opened their own production company called Team Downey. Their first project was The Judge.