How Robert Downey Jr saved Wes Bentley’s life during drug addiction
In 1985, he was part of the new, younger cast hired for Saturday Night Live, but following a year of poor ratings and criticism of the new cast’s comedic talents, he and most of the new crew were dropped and replaced. He was considered for the role of Duckie in John Hughes’s film Pretty in Pink , but his first lead role was with Molly Ringwald in The Pick-up Artist . Because of these and other coming-of-age films Downey did during the 1980s, he is sometimes named as a member of the Brat Pack. By his early 30s, Robert Downey Jr.’s drug addiction had led him down a dangerous path, resulting in his June 1996 arrest. After almost a full year in prison, Robert Downey Jr was released in 2000 due to his collective time in incarceration facilities and he was immediately cast in a new television series Ally McBeal.
The drug-fueled upbringing gave Downey Jr. all the material he needed to craft the character of “Julian” in his first major film role, the 1987 GenX classic, “Less Than Zero,” starring, in addition to Downey Jr., Jami Gertz and Andrew McCarthy. Sr. even cast a five-year-old Jr. in his own disturbing film, Pound . He recalled one instance while filming 1995’s Home for the Holidays, which Jodie Foster directed and produced.
- He was able to stay sober while working on a film for a period of time but would soon fall off the wagon and begin using again, going on days-long benders.
- 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.
- Robert’s original family name was Elias which was changed by his father to enlist in the Army.
- He was arrested two more times within eight months before being sent to rehab for six months at Wavelengths International, one of many court-mandated addiction treatment centers he visited over the years.
Sr. began to clean up his act after his marriage to Laura Ernst in 1991, and stayed clean after Ernst’s death in 1994. In his new Netflix documentary, Sr., Robert Downey Jr. gets a chance to say goodbye to his father, filmmaker Robert Downey Sr., who died last July at the age of 85. And he also gets a chance to have difficult conversations—including a heart-to-heart regarding their years using drugs. My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman is currently streaming on Netflix.
The film was delayed from a November 2008 release by Paramount Pictures due to the studio’s tight end-of-year release schedule. Critics who had seen the film in 2008 were mentioning it as a possible Academy Award candidate. Downey picked up an Academy Award nomination for the 2008 release year for his role in Tropic Thunder. In 1992, he starred as Charlie Chaplin in Chaplin, a role for which he prepared extensively, learning how to play the violin as well as tennis left-handed. He had a personal coach in order to help him imitate Chaplin’s posture, and a way of carrying himself.
Robert Downey Jr. on his time in prison
For context, Downey Jr. began acting at age 5 in his father’s movie Pound. Downey Jr. went on to struggle with addiction, leading to highly publicized legal troubles and a stint in prison in the late ’90s. Robert Downey Jr. was born in New York City in 1965 to underground filmmaker Robert Downey Sr. and actress Elsie Downey. At an early age, his father, who also struggled with substance abuse, introduced him to drugs, allowing him to try marijuana at a party when he was only eight years old.
In a since-deleted Facebook post (via E! News), Downey detailed their complicated, yet loving relationship. While locked up at the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison in 2000, Robert Downey Jr. gave an exclusive interview toVanity Fair’s Steve Garbarino, in which he revealed that his time on the inside gave him a lot of time to think. “There was a huge amount of time spent making sure he was okay,” she told People.
There were guard towers and a maximum security prison next door and rumors that the guards would make the inmates fight or be shot. Fellow actor Sean Penn saw Robert Downey Jr wasting away and, at one point, Penn took away the young actor’s keys, kicked his front door down, and drove him to rehab, saying “You have two reputations. I think you know what both of them are, and I think you’d do well to get rid of one of those reputations. If you don’t, it will get rid of the other one.” But it didn’t stick. In 1993, Downey married Deborah Falconer and together they welcomed the birth of their son, Indio.
We love hearing from our readers and invite you to join us for feedback and great conversation. If you’ve commented with us before, we’ll need you to re-input your email address for this. The film chronicles the tragic downfall of a drug-addicted Julian after college graduation. And, as the documentary, three years in the making, reveals, that wasn’t all Sr. shared with his young boy. Downey Sr. was a hopeless addict who actually encouraged his six-year-old son, caught sipping white wine while the grown-ups played poker, to smoke marijuana instead.
Despite Susan’s worries that the romance would not last after the completion of shooting given that “he’s an actor; I have a real job”, the couple’s relationship continued after production wrapped on Gothika, and Downey proposed to Susan on the night before her thirtieth birthday. In August 2005, the couple were married, in a Jewish ceremony, at Amagansett, New York. The Downeys’ first child, a son named Exton Elias, was born in February 2012, and their second, a daughter named Avri Roel, was born in November 2014. Released in the United States on August 13, 2008, Tropic Thunder received good reviews with 83% of reviews positive and an average normalized score of 71, according to the review aggregator websites Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, respectively.
However, his personal life also came into the public eye a bit more. When Downey’s parents divorced in 1978, Downey moved with his father from New York to California. Downey dropped out of Santa Monica High School at 17 and moved back to New York to pursue acting.
In an article for the March 2007 issue of Esquire, Downey stated that he wanted to address “this whole thing about the bipolar” after receiving a phone call from “the Bipolar Association” asking him about being bipolar. Americanaddictioncenters.org needs to review the security of your connection before proceeding. Downey’s downward spiral into addiction would unfortunately become infamous over the next 15 years,landing him not only in rehab, but also behind bars, until finally kicking the habit for good in the summer of 2003. “So there was a lot of combination of things I wasn’t prepared for.
A month later, while on parole, he trespassed into a neighbor’s home while under the influence of a controlled substance, and fell asleep in one of the beds. He received three years’ probation and was ordered to undergo compulsory drug testing. In 1997, he missed alcohol and cancer risk fact sheet one of the court-ordered drug tests and had to spend six months in the Los Angeles County jail. Downey began building upon theater roles, including in the short-lived off-Broadway musical American Passion at the Joyce Theater in 1983, produced by Norman Lear.
In Robert Downey Jr.’s words, he had an “interesting” childhood — but as you delve further into his past, you’ll find that’s quite the understatement. Both of his artistic parents, who divorced when he was 13, struggled with drug and alcohol addictionand led lifestyles that meant traveling for work and wild party invites. Naturally, Downeycaught the acting bug at a young age, but, according to Biography, never stayed in one place for too long during his youth, living alcohol, headaches and hangovers in New York City, London, and Santa Monica. He also infamously had his first taste of marijuana when he was just six or seven. Throughout the documentary, Downey Jr. appears to have made the conscious decision to refrain from going into detail on his father’s addiction. Speaking to Deadline about addiction in the documentary, he said, “It is a disease. … What a joy to be able to arrest one disease, so you can have some sort of dignity for the rest of your life.”
In an interview with People Magazine, Downey Jr. explained how doing drugs with his father became their way of bonding, and that this early exposure to drugs led Downey Jr. to spend most nights throughout his 20’s and 30’s getting drunk and scouting dealers. Today, the world knows actor Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, but as any member of Generation X will tell you, there were many times in the early days of Downey’s career when we wondered if his addiction to drugs first step recovery center would rob us of the iconic actor’s undeniable talent. The first role Downey accepted after Iron Man was the title character in Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes. The film set several box office records in the United States for a Christmas Day release, beating the previous record-holder, 2008’s Marley & Me, by nearly $10M, and finished second to Avatar in a record-setting Christmas weekend box office. Sherlock Holmes ended up being the 8th highest-grossing film of 2009.
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He cites an eye-opening moment when he was brushing his teeth and he spit in the sink only to have a fellow inmate howl at him for spitting in a sink that he had no right to spit in, polluting their sink with his germs. He also had to avoid detection in the cafeteria as there was always someone trying to start “something” by giving him more food. Downey’s first arrest was on June 23, 1996, when he was pulled over for speeding in his black Ford Explorer along the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu. During this arrest, the discovered small amounts of heroin (.42 grams), cocaine (1.49 grams with .32 in crack form, making it a possible felony) and an unloaded .357 magnum in the car as well – with four bullets in the glove box.
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In July of 2001, Downey pleaded no contest to the charges, narrowly avoiding jail time. The timing worked in Downey’s favor as California Proposition 36 was passed. A prop that helped send nonviolent drug offenders to rehab instead of jail.
Warning: Discussion of drug addiction.
Instead, he escaped from rehab twice and, in 1999, was sentenced to 36 months in jail, though he served just under a year. The actor told Vanity Fair that was “an uncommon occurrence for me. Happened to be a very public one. I was not a guy who blacked out.” Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE’s free weekly newsletter to get the biggest news of the week delivered to your inbox every Friday. “You know, I think we would be remiss to not discuss its effect on me,” he told his father, who said, “Boy, I could sure love to miss that discussion.” Then, speaking on the phone with his father, Jr. states he’d be “remiss” not to bring up how his father’s drug use led Jr. down his own path of addiction.
0 commentsHe also noted there was not a “tipping point” where his addiction began, citing “the culture that I was raised in” as what spurred it. “As the AMA will say that alcoholism or addiction is essentially a brain disease, but it’s a brain disease that people don’t want to take the cure for when it’s offered, so it’s a very insidious thing.” On June 14, 2010, Downey and his wife Susan opened their own production company called Team Downey.
Upon his release on July 29, Judge Mira orders another supervised drug rehabilitation program. Less Than Zero was the turning point, both in Downey’s career and addiction. The film launched him into larger roles, eventually starring in Chaplin as Charlie Chaplin in 1992 where he was nominated for an Academy Award.
“Maybe I’d turn up hungover on the set, but no more so than the stuntman.” However, Downey went on to say that this changed while filming Less Than Zero. “For me, the role was like the ghost of Christmas future,” he noted. “The character was an exaggeration of myself. Then things changed, and, in some ways, I became an exaggeration of the character. That lasted far longer than it needed to last.” During his childhood, Downey had minor roles in his father’s films. He made his acting debut at the age of five, playing a sick puppy in the absurdist comedy Pound , and then at seven appeared in the surrealist Western Greaser’s Palace .
Downey appears in Episode 2 of Season 3, which Netflix released on Wednesday. Downey’s latest movie, Dolittle, is currently available digitally and physically. In 2003, Downey met producer Susan Downey (née Levin), an executive vice-president of production at Joel Silver’s film company, Silver Pictures, on the set of Gothika. Though Susan twice turned down his amorous advances, she and Downey did quietly strike up a romance during production.