Robert Downey Jr. - Updated Jul 2024

Updated On June 3, 2024
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Robert Downey Jr.

Robert Downey Jr. is an American actor, producer, as well as a singer. Robert Downey Jr. started his acting career very early in his life. He had a huge success in his youth followed by a period of substance abuse and legal troubles. Then he resurged the commercial success in middle age.

Early Life and Childhood

Robert Downey Jr. was born on 4 April 1965 and is currently 47 years old. His hometown is Manhattan, New York City. Manhattan, New York City. His parents are his father Robert Downey Sr. and his mother Elsie Ann (née Ford).

Robert St. is an actor and filmmaker whereas Elsie was an actress who appeared in Downey Sr.’s films. Also, he has a sibling named Allyson Downey.

His father is of half Lithuanian Jewish, one-quarter Hungarian Jewish, and one-quarter Irish descent. Similarly, his mother had Scottish, German, and Swiss ancestry.

His original family name was Elias which his father changed to enlist in the Army. The Downey siblings grew up in Greenwich Village.

Robert Downey Jr.

Caption: Robert Downey Jr.’s childhood, youth, and present photographs. Source: Pinterest and Wonderwall

Robert Downey Jr. – Childhood and Beginning of Acting Career

As a child, Downey was surrounded by drugs. His father was a drug addict and he allowed Downey to use marijuana at age six, an incident which his father later said he regretted.

The actor later stated that drug use became an emotional bond between him and his father: “When my dad and I would do drugs together, it was like him trying to express his love for me, the only way he knew how.”

Eventually, Downey began spending every night abusing alcohol and “making a thousand phone calls in pursuit of drugs.”

During his childhood, Robert Downey had minor roles in his father’s films. Later, he made his acting debut at the age of five by playing the role of a sick puppy in Pound.

It is an absurdist comedy movie released in 1970, and then at seven appeared in the surrealist Western Greaser’s Palace (1972).

Moreover, when he was 10 years old, he was living in England and studied classical ballet as part of a larger curriculum. He attended the Stagedoor Manor Performing Arts Training Center in upstate New York as a teenager.

When his parents divorced in 1978 when he was only 13, Downey moved to California with his father. However, he later dropped out of Santa Monica High School and moved back to New York to pursue an acting career full-time in 1982.

Downey and Kiefer Sutherland were roommates for three years when he first moved to Hollywood to pursue his career in acting. They also shared the screen in the 1988 drama 1969.

Robert Downey Jr. – Personal Life

In May 1992, Robert Downey Jr. married actress Deborah Falconer. Two years later, the lovers had a son named Indio. At this time, they named a friend and actor, Anthony Michael Hall, as their son’s godfather.

If he was ever really grounded by his new status as husband and father, then it was short-lived.

In June 1996, the police stopped the actor. This happened when they found him driving naked in his Porsche on Sunset Boulevard. Additionally, they also found him in possession of cocaine, heroin, and a .357 Magnum.

Less than a month later, and only a few hours before he was slated to be charged, he ran afoul of the law again. This time, he was found passed out in a neighbor’s house.

For the next several years, his life was a haze of headline-generating, dependency-induced mistakes, and their consequences. He needed a 12-month stay in prison and another visit to drug rehab.

In November 2000, they arrested him again, this time in a Palm Springs hotel room. There, the police discovered the actor with cocaine and in a Wonder Woman costume. They charged him with felony drug possession.

They set his trial originally for late January. However, it was delayed for several months while his lawyers negotiated with prosecutors. Later in March 2001, the two sides failed to reach a plea bargain.

Due to this, the case was set for a preliminary hearing at the end of April. On April 24, 2001, he was arrested for allegedly being under the influence of an undisclosed “stimulant.” During this period, his personal life was in turmoil too, as Falconer sued him for divorce in 2004.

Second Marriage

Although he had a troubled history with the law, he had a much more stable home life. He married Susan Levin in 2005. Susan is a producer. Later, the lovers welcomed their first child together on 7 February 2012.

His name is Exton Elias. Then on 4 November 2014, the lovers welcomed their second child and named her Avri. Moreover, in December 2015, Jerry Brown, the California Governor pardoned him for the 1996 drug conviction that sent him to prison for a year.

Robert Downey Jr.

Caption: Robert Downey Jr. and his wife Susan at the 2010 Academy Awards. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Professional Life

Robert Downey Jr. is an American actor. He is most popular for roles in films like Iron Man, The Avengers, Sherlock Holmes, and Chaplin. He started his acting career as a young child.

Additionally, he made his first film appearances and was a cast member on Saturday Night Live in the 1980s. However, his years of struggle with drug abuse marred his growing success.

He eventually turned his life around and later earned a resurgence of critical and popular acclaim and is considered one of Hollywood’s A-list actors.

Some of his earliest feature film appearances are in movies such as Baby, It’s You (1983), Firstborn (1984), Weird Science (1985), and Back to School (1986). From 1985 to 1986, he was a regular cast member of Saturday Night Live, NBC’s popular sketch-comedy program.

His first leading role on the big screen was as a charming womanizer in The Pick-up Artist (1987), a romantic comedy. It co-starred Molly Ringwald and James Toback wrote and directed this movie.

More Details

Moreover, his breakthrough performance came in 1987 with Less Than Zero (1987), in which he co-starred with Andrew McCarthy. He played the role of a party-loving, cocaine-addicted Julian Wells in the film.

Sadly, this movie’s storyline and character rang especially true for him since he had been introduced to drugs at a young age by his father. He developed a full-fledged addiction as he entered his 20s. Speaking on this issue, he said:

“Until that movie, I took my drugs after work and on the weekends. Maybe I’d turn up hungover on the set, but no more so than the stuntman. That changed on Less Than Zero. I was playing this junkie-faggot guy, and, for me, the role was like the ghost of Christmas future. 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.”

A stint in drug rehabilitation followed shortly afterward, but his struggles with drugs and alcohol continued. And yet, his career continued to advance. By the early 1990s, he had established a reputation as a critically acclaimed A-list actor.

He earned praise for his comic turn as a shifty soap opera producer in Soapdish (1991), co-starring Sally Field, Kevin Kline, and Whoopi Goldberg.

More adoration followed when he landed a featured role in Short Cuts (1993), the critically lauded ensemble film by Robert Altman.

Movies of Critical Acclaim

A particular high point in his career came in 1993 when he was nominated for an Academy Award (Best Actor) for his performance in Chaplin (1992). Richard Attenborough directed the movie.

By this time, the 27-year-old had come to be seen as one of the most gifted actors of his generation, but he had also earned a reputation as a troubled and controversial figure in Hollywood.

In the wake of his critical success with Chaplin, he anchored a documentary about the 1992 presidential election, The Last Party. Then in 1994, he appeared in the romantic comedy Only You, as well as in Oliver Stone’s acclaimed but controversial Natural Born Killers.

The next year, the actor starred in the period film Restoration alongside Meg Ryan and Sam Neill. This was an updated film version of Richard III, co-starring Ian McKellen, and Annette Bening.

He also appeared in the Jodie Foster-directed Home for the Holidays, starring Holly Hunter.

Robert Downey Jr.

Caption: Robert Downey Jr. and his co-stars on the set of the movie “Do Little”. Source: Instagram


Despite his turmoil in the early 2000s, he continued his work. He gave a memorable performance in Wonder Boys (2000) and had roles in several other films like Auto Motives and Lethargy.

Additionally, he made the move to the small screen in 2000, becoming a regular cast member of the popular show Ally McBeal, starring Calista Flockhart. With this new role, he once again reminded fans and critics of his talent, likeability, as well as versatility.

He went on to pick up a 2001 Golden Globe Award and won a Screen Actor’s Guild Award soon after.

However, his increasingly complicated personal life pressed his employer’s patience. After the second arrest in April 2001, his tenure on Ally McBeal came to an end. The producers decided to wrap up the production of the final episodes of the season without the actor.

Around this same time, lawyers reached an agreement with prosecutors that required him to plead no contest to cocaine-related charges. They sentenced him to three years probation. This ruling allowed him to continue live-in drug treatment rather than return to prison.

Box Office Hits

Working his way back to prominence, he starred opposite Halle Berry in Gothika in 2003. This fared better at the box office than it did with the critics. He continued to dedicate himself to his craft.

He played a supporting role in the critically acclaimed Good Night, and Good Luck (2005) and the lead role in the independent drama A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints (2006).

He also co-produced this movie. In Zodiac (2007), he played a journalist who gets wrapped up in the hunt for the infamous Zodiac Killer.

In 2008, he transformed from an often critically admired actor to a box office star. He played the character of a wealthy industrialist-turned-crime fighter Tony Stark in the smash hit Iron Man.

It is based on the Marvel Comics superhero, which grossed more than $318 million domestically and led to the release of sequels in 2010 and 2013.

Taking a huge risk, he also starred in the comedy Tropic Thunder (2008) with Ben Stiller and Jack Black. He garnered numerous accolades for his performance in Tropic Thunder. This includes Oscar for “Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role”.

He also received Golden Globe for “Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture” and Screen Actors Guild for “Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role” award nominations.

Sherlock Holmes and Avengers Franchise

Further, he went on to share top billing with Jamie Foxx in The Soloist (2009), which tells the story of the friendship between a Los Angeles journalist (Downey) and a homeless Juilliard-trained musician (Foxx).

Demonstrating he isn’t afraid of blockbusters (or English accents), he co-starred in the Guy Ritchie-directed Sherlock Holmes in 2009, alongside Jude Law as Dr. John Watson. The pair teamed up again for the 2011 sequel named Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.

After a turn as sharp city lawyer Hank Palmer opposite Robert Duvall in the drama The Judge (2014), he reprised his Tony Stark/Iron Man dual role for Avengers: Age of Ultron in 2015.

He also appeared in Captain America: Civil War in 2016, Spider-Man: Homecoming in 2017, Avengers: Infinity War in 2018, and Avengers: Endgame in 2019.

After a half-decade of appearing solely in Marvel-branded features, he reemerged as host of the YouTube series The Age of AI beginning in late 2019.

In January 2020, he starred as a veterinarian who talks to animals in Dolittle. It is based on the classic children’s book series written by British author Hugh Lofting.

Other Ventures

Robert Downey Jr. is also a singer and he has sung on several soundtracks for his films. Some of them are Chaplin, Too Much Sun, Two Girls and a Guy, Friends and Lovers, The Singing Detective, and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Moreover, he released a CD in 2004 called The Futurist.

While promoting his film Tropic Thunder, he and his co-stars Ben Stiller and Jack Black were backup singers “The Pips” to Gladys Knight singing “Midnight Train to Georgia”.

Moreover, his most commercially successful recording venture to date is his remake of the 1973 Joni Mitchell Christmas song “River”.

Upcoming Projects

Robert Downey Jr. will appear in the sports-comedy drama film All-Star Weekend. Jamie Foxx directed this film and he will reprise his role as Holmes in a third film. As per the schedule, it will be released on 22 December 2021.

Robert’s Friendship with Mel Gibson

Similarly, one of the people to played a key role in his turnaround was Mel Gibson. They co-starred in Air America (1990). Mel Gibson stuck by his friend’s side, even as his life was completely unraveling.

Moreover, when he was unable to get something as routine as an insurance bond due to his past troubles with the law, Gibson found work for him. He cast him in the 2003 film The Singing Detective. The two actors remain close friends, even today.

Social Media

Talking about Robert Downey Jr.’s social media visibility, is available on various platforms. He joined Twitter in June 2009 and so far has 14.9 million followers.

Similarly, the actor also has an Instagram account with 46.3 million followers and 448 posts as of April 2020. He also has a Facebook page with 28.8 million followers.

Body Measurements

Robert Downey Jr. stands at a height of 1.74 meters i.e. 5 feet 9 inches and weighs approximately 78 kg. Similarly, his chest-waist-biceps sizes are 43-32-15 inches respectively. Moreover, he has dark brown hair and eyes of the same color.

Robert Downey Jr. – Net worth 2023

Moving on, his net worth estimation is approximately 300 million dollars. With his involvement in several blockbuster movies and many other professional activities, he earns a heavy sum of money.