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Robert John Downey Jr. is an actor from the United States. His career has been characterized by critical and popular success in his youth, followed by a time of substance abuse and legal problems, and then a comeback of commercial success in his middle years. Downey was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most important people in the world in 2008, and Forbes labeled him Hollywood’s highest-paid actor from 2013 to 2015.

In 1970, he made his acting debut at the age of five in Robert Downey Sr.’s film Pound.  He then appeared in the teen flicks Weird Science (1985) and Less Than Zero with the Brat Pack (1987). Downey was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor and won a BAFTA Award for his performance as Charlie Chaplin in the biopic Chaplin in 1992.

He joined the TV series Ally McBeal, for which he received a Golden Globe Award, after a stint in the Corcoran Substance Abuse Treatment Facility on drug charges. In the wake of drug allegations in 2000 and 2001, he was sacked from the program. He completed a court-ordered drug treatment program and has been clean since 2003.

Bond completion providers initially refused to insure Downey until Mel Gibson paid the insurance bond for his picture The Singing Detective in 2003. He went on to feature in the black comedy Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005), the thriller Zodiac (2007), and the action comedy Tropic Thunder (2008), for which he received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for the latter.

Downey rose to international prominence after appearing as Tony Stark / Iron Man in 10 Marvel Studios films, beginning with Iron Man (2008). He also starred as Sherlock Holmes in Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes (2009) and its sequel, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, for which he won his second Golden Globe (2011).


Downey was born the youngest of two children in Manhattan, New York City. Robert Downey Sr., his father, was an actor and director, and Elsie Ann (née Ford), his mother, was an actress who starred in Downey Sr.’s films.  Downey’s father was half Lithuanian-Jewish, a quarter Hungarian-Jewish, and a quarter Irish, while Downey’s mother was Scottish, German, and Swiss. Robert’s first name was Elias, but his father changed it to Robert in order for him to enroll in the army. Downey grew up in Greenwich Village with his older sister Allyson.

Downey was “surrounded by narcotics” as a youngster. Downey’s father, a drug addict, let him to try marijuana when he was six years old, an act that his father subsequently regretted. “When my dad and I would use drugs together, it was like him attempting to communicate his love for me in the only manner he knew how,” Downey later said of drug usage as an emotional tie between him and his father. Downey eventually began consuming booze every night and “made a thousand phone calls in search of narcotics.”

Downey had modest appearances in his father’s films when he was younger. At the age of five, he had his acting debut in the absurdist comedy Pound (1970), portraying a sick dog, and at the age of seven, he starred in the surrealist Western Greaser’s Palace (1972). He was born in England and learned classical ballet as part of a bigger curriculum when he was ten years old. As a teenager, he went to the Stagedoor Manor Performing Arts Training Center in upstate New York. Downey relocated to California with his father after his parents separated in 1978, but he dropped out of Santa Monica High School in 1982 and returned to New York to pursue an acting career full-time.

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