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Robert Downey Jr. 24 Facts

2010-04-28 16:26

1.    RDJ was born to Robert Sr. and Ellie Downey in New York City on 4 April, 1965, the younger of two children.

2.    Robert Sr. was an actor, writer, producer, cinematographer, and director of underground films and Junior grew up taking parts in his father's films. His first role was as a five-year-old playing a puppy in his father's 1970 film, Pound.

3.    Robert got his big break at age 20 when he joined the acclaimed Saturday Night Live sketch comedy team. But his tenure was short-lived. He was fired due to bad audience ratings a year later.

4.    Being a young, good-looking, talented actor during the mid-80s meant that Brat Pack status was not far behind and RDJ landed a role in John Hughes' Weird Science and opposite Brat Pack queen Molly Ringwald in The Pick-Up Artist in 1987.

5.    His acclaimed performance as a drug addicted rich boy in Less Than Zero (based on the Bret Easton Ellis novel) proved prescient when Robert himself was drawn into a life of drug abuse, just as his career was on the ascendency.

6.    RDJ's first Academy Award nomination came from his portrayal of film legend Charlie Chaplin in Richard Attenborough's 1992 biopic Chaplin.

  He kept much of the authentic vintage clothing he wore in the movie.

8.    It's a role that the star prepared for with a method actor's determination, learning to play the piano and tennis, as well as getting a personal coach to help him attain Chaplin's iconic posture and manner of walking.

9.     His substance abuse problems continued throughout the late 90s and early 2000s resulting in several arrests and stints at rehab facilities. During one court appearance on drug charges, Robert explained his addiction to the judge, ""It's like I have a loaded gun in my mouth and my finger's on the trigger, and I like the taste of the gunmetal."

10.    Some of the offences he committed while under the influence include firing a Magnum handgun while speeding down Sunset Boulevard, breaking into a neighbour's home and falling asleep in their bed, and failing to comply to drug testing on numerous occasions.

11.    Robert was sentenced to three years at the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison but only spent one year singing the prison blues so that he could get back to making movies, a ruling that caused a stir.

12.    A week after his release, RDJ was cast as Larry Paul in the hit legal series Ally McBeal, playing a love interest for Ally. His introduction to the show during its fourth season proved a massive hit with viewers, with ratings soaring and Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for its newest addition.

13.    But the party soon came to an end, with Robert's demon's resurfacing. He was again arrested in 2000 for possession of cocaine and Valium, and was fired from Ally McBeal. The show was never the same without him.

14.    Despite his regular brushes with the law, Robert was a hot Hollywood ticket, signing up as the lead in America's Sweethearts and as Hamlet in Mel Gibson's intended stage production. After another arrest while on parole in 2001, these jobs disappeared, with Mel having to scrap his Hamlet plans altogether.

15.    During this ordeal, Robert's marriage to actress Deborah Falconer hit the rocks and they were divorced in 2004 after a 12-year marriage. They married after dating for just 42 days.

    Together he and Deborah share a son, Indio Falconer Downey, who followed in the family's dramatic footsteps and played the nine-year-old version of his dad's character in the noir movie Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.

17.    During the 80s, RDJ spent eight years living with Sarah Jessica Parker.

18.    He met his second wife Susan on the set of Gothika. She was one of the movie's producers.

19.    He was let out of rehab for one day to shoot the Elton John video "I Want Love".

20.    He released an album of self-penned songs, The Futurist, in 2004. The CD also included his cover of the Charlie Chaplin song "Smile".

21.    He was signed by a publisher in 2006 to write a tell-all book about his former life as a hell-raiser, but he backed out of the project.

22.    The guy wears heels! At just 1.74m, RDJ is tiny according to Hollywood leading man standards. To get over this 'little problem', Robert has been wearing lifts in his shoes for roles such as Iron Man and Sherlock Holmes - at the request of the directors.

23.    When asked on whom his controversial role in Tropic Thunder was based (in which he played a narcissistic Australian actor who undergoes plastic surgery in order to appear African-American), Robert replied, "Sadly, my sorry-ass self."

24.    Iron Man 2 director Jon Favreau has said that Robert's role as Tony Stark is to Iron Man what Johnny Depp's captain Jack Sparrow was to The Pirates of the Caribbean movies.

* Iron Man 2 is released nationwide on 30 April. Word on the street is that it's going to blow the box office apart. Let us know if you're amped for Tony Stark's return.

A Brat Packer, a singer, a comedian, a superhero, a hell-raiser, a bona fide movie star. All you need to know about Iron Man himself.

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