Robert Downey Jr. was raised in Greenwich Village with his sister Alison, by avant-garde filmmaker, Robert Downey Sr. and actress Elsie Downey. His mother instilled a love for acting in the young boy. His parents divorced when he was 13 and he was forced to move to L.A. with his father. He dropped out of high school to begin an acting career. At age 16, he moved back to New York to live with his mother.
Downey Jr. made his film debut in 1970 as a puppy in his father's movie, Pound. In 1983, Robert began making feature films. He starred in Baby It's You, First Born, Weird Science and many more. In 1985, he joined the cast of Saturday Night Live but left the cast the following year. His first leading role was as a handsome, charming womanizer in the 1987 flick, The Pick-Up Artist, directed by James Toback and co-starring Molly Ringwald.
Downey also starred in Less Than Zero, a movie about a serious drug addict. This role was irony since he had his own drug problems, having had a self-described "love-affair" with cocaine. He was introduced to drugs at eight years old when his father gave him some marijuana. He has been in and out of rehab since 1987. A high point in his career was the Academy Award Nomination he received for his poignant portrayal of Charlie Chaplin in the 1992 movie Chaplin. He did not win this award and was crushed, believing that he "deserved that award".
In June 1996, Downey was stopped for speeding. When the officer stopped him, he discovered crack cocaine, heroin and an unloaded firearm in his car. Robert was arrested again a month later in Malibu, when he had stumbled into a neighbor's home and fell asleep in a child's bed. Three days later he fled a drug rehab center where he had been ordered to stay. In November 1996, Downey was fined $250.00 and three years probation after pleading no contest to drug and weapon possession. He entered yet another rehab program but when he admitted to using drugs again, he was sentenced to a possible three years in prison.
In the summer of 2000, after serving most of this term, Downey came out of prison. Almost immediately, he started working on the David E. Kelley series, Ally McBeal. He played the role of Ally's love interest, Larry Paul, for which he has received critical acclaim. He received a Golden Globe and a Screen Actor's Guild Award for this role and was nominated for a TV guide award, but lost to Sean Hayes.
On November 25, 2000, Downey was arrested once again. He was spending the Thanksgiving weekend at the Merv Griffin Resort in Palm Springs, where he was found to be in possession of cocaine, methamphetamine (speed) and the prescription drug Vicodin. He has been able to keep himself clean and has been married to producer, Susan Levin (August 27, 2005), whom he met while filming Gothika (2003). They planned to have a wedding, which was supposed to have taken place at the Hamptons on Ron Perlman's estate after The Great Gatsby, was moved to a new location after the press got news of it. With the success of both Ironman (2008) and Tropic Thunder (2008), Downey is once again at the top of his game.… Expand