Monday, October 18, 2010
Male on Monday - Robert Downey Jr
For the past week or so the Blogosphere has been kept entertained/happy/satisfied by something called 'The Daily Downey'. As a selfless act of charity to all, Julie Cohen has taken time out from revising her latest work to post a picture of Robert Downey Junior on her blog.
This makes me happy.
It also meant that there was no other candidate for this week's Male on Monday.
So, with thanks to Julie, I present Robert Downey Junior for your delectation.
Robert Downey Jr was born on 4th April 1965 in Manhattan, his father an actor, writer, producer, cinematographer and director of underground films. His mother an actress. RDJ had minor roles in his father's projects in his childhood making his debut at the age of 5.
He was in the cast of Saturday Night Live for a season in 1985.
Through the 80s he played in a number of teen films and sometimes gets included as a member of the Brat Pack. In 1987, Downey played Julian Wells, a drug-addicted rich boy whose life rapidly spirals out of his control, in the film version of the Bret Easton Ellis novel Less Than Zero. His performance, described by Janet Maslin in The New York Times as "desperately moving", was widely praised, though Downey has said that for him "the role was like the ghost of Christmas Future" since his drug habit resulted in him becoming an "exaggeration of the character" in real life. Zero drove Downey into films with bigger budgets and names, such as Chances Are (1989) with Cybill Shepherd and Ryan O'Neal, Air America (1990) with Mel Gibson, and Soapdish (1991) with Sally Field, Kevin Kline and Whoopi Goldberg.
In 1992, he starred as Charlie Chaplin in Chaplin, a role for which he prepared extensively, learning how to play the violin and tennis left-handed. He even had a personal coach in order to imitate Chaplin's posture and way of carrying himself. The role garnered Downey an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. His other films in the 1990s included Heart and Souls, Only You, Natural Born Killers, Restoration, Two Girls and a Guy, Black and White, Short Cuts, Richard III, and The Last Party, a documentary written by Downey.
From 1996 through 2003, Downey was arrested numerous times on drug-related charges and went several times through drug treatment programs unsuccessfully, explaining in 1999 to a 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." He also explained his relapses by claiming to be addicted to drugs since the age of eight; his father was giving them to him as he was also an addict.
He spent nearly a year in California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison in Corcoran, California. A week after his 2000 release, Downey joined the cast of the hit television series Ally McBeal, playing the new love interest of Calista Flockhart's title character. His performance was praised and the following year he was nominated for an Emmy Award in the Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series category and won a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor in a mini-series or TV Film. He also appeared as a writer and singer on Vonda Shepard's Ally McBeal: For Once in My Life album, and he sang with Sting a duet of "Every Breath You Take" in an episode of the series. Despite the apparent success, Downey claims that his performance on the series was overrated and that "It was my lowest point in terms of addictions. At that stage, I didn't give a fuck whether I ever acted again." In January 2001, Downey was scheduled to play the role of Hamlet in a Los Angeles stage production directed by Mel Gibson.
Before the end of his first season on Ally McBeal, Downey was arrested during Thanksgiving 2000, when his room at Merv Griffin's Hotel and Givenchy Spa in Palm Springs, California was searched by the police who were responding to an anonymous 911 call. Downey was under the influence of a controlled substance and in possession of cocaine and valium. Despite the fact that if convicted he could face a prison sentence of up to four years and eight months, he signed on to appear in at least eight more Ally McBeal episodes. In April 2001, while he was on parole, a Los Angeles police officer found him wandering barefoot in Culver City, near southwest Los Angeles. He was arrested for suspicion of being under the influence of drugs but was released a few hours later, even though tests showed he had cocaine in his system. After this last arrest, producer David E. Kelley and other Ally McBeal executives ordered last-minute re-writes and re-shoots and dismissed Downey from the show, despite the fact that Downey's character had resuscitated Ally McBeal's ratings. The Culver City arrest also cost him a role in the high-profile film America's Sweethearts and the subsequent incarceration forced Mel Gibson to shut down his planned stage production of Hamlet as well. In July 2001, Downey pleaded no contest to the Palm Springs charges, avoiding jail time; instead, he was sent into drug rehabilitation and put on a three-year probation.
Downey got his first post-rehab acting job in August 2001, lip-syncing in the video for the Elton John's single "I Want Love". Video director Sam Taylor-Wood shot 16 takes of the video and used the last one because, according to John, Downey looked completely relaxed, and "the way he underplays it is fantastic." Watch it here
Of course since that time he has gone from strength to strength and is currently wowing audiences in the Iron Man franchise and also Sherlock Holmes.
We all love a reformed bad boy and it is great to see one that looks so good :-)
So here's to Robert Downey Jr and the way he inspires us all (especially Julie!)
Brigid is polishing her entry for the Golden Hearts and enjoying her Daily Downey fix