Creator: Robert Downey, Jr.
"The truth is... I am Iron Man."Robert John Downey, Jr.
— Tony Stark
(born April 4, 1965) is an American actor, film producer and musician. Downey made his screen debut at the age of 5 when he appeared in one of his father's films, Pound
(1970), and has worked consistently in film and television ever since.
During the 1980s
, he was a cast member on the NBC sketch show Saturday Night Live
(his uncle, Jim Downey, was a cast member on the show in the 1979-1980 season and, next to Rob Smigelnote
and Lorne Michaels
himself, is the longest-running writer this show has ever had. Downey has since left the show in 2013) and had roles in a series of coming-of-age films associated with the Brat Pack
. He was cast to read one of the letters in the 1987 film Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam
before his rise to fame. Less Than Zero
is particularly notable, not only because it was the first time Downey's acting would be acknowledged by critics, but also because the role pushed Downey's already-existing drug habit one step further. After Zero
, Downey started landing roles in bigger films, such as Air America
. These higher-profile roles eventually led to his being cast as Charlie Chaplin
in the 1992 biopic Chaplin
, for which he gained an Academy Award
nomination for Best Actor.
Between 1996 and 2001, Downey was frequently arrested on drug-related charges and went through several drug treatment programs, but had difficulty staying sober. After being released from the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison in 2000, 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 he was nominated for an Emmy award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series and won a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor in a miniseries or TV film, but his character was written out when Downey was fired after two arrests in late 2000 and early 2001.
After one last stay in a court-ordered drug treatment program, Downey finally achieved lasting sobriety and his career began to take off again. He appeared in semi-independent films such as The Singing Detective
, A Scanner Darkly
and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
. He also had supporting roles in the mainstream films Gothika
. In 2004, Downey released his debut studio album The Futurist
, although he was involved with music a little earlier; that's him walking around in the Elton John
video for "I Want Love."
In 2008, Downey became the title character
in the Comic Book
adaptation Iron Man
. Somehow, playing a Super Hero
with undeniable talent and a substance abuse problem seemed to be natural for him. His other 2008 films include Charlie Bartlett
and Tropic Thunder
, directed by Ben Stiller
, in which he played Australian method actor Kirk Lazarus, who is overly engrossed in his role as an African-American soldier. He received his second Oscar nomination for the film, in the category of Best Supporting Actor, which he lost to Heath Ledger
(but not before being lauded by Cuba Gooding Jr
as the only man crazy enough and good enough to play blackface).
He next played the lead character in Guy Ritchie
's adaptation of Sherlock Holmes
, which opened on Christmas 2009. It is a very
different take on the character but surprisingly faithful to the original books, and it was a hit and a Golden Globe winning role for Downey.
In 2010, Downey appeared in Iron Man 2
, another huge hit, and the comedy Road Movie Due Date
along with Zach Galifianakis. He reprised the role of Sherlock Holmes in 2011's Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
. In 2012, he appeared as Iron Man in the highly successful The Avengers
, and then again in 2013 for Iron Man 3
.Oh, and he's now the voice for Mr. Peanut
- Actor Allusion: Since beating his drug problems for good, he tends to play characters who struggle with substance abuse, particularly alcoholics.
- Career Resurrection: Downey's turns in critically lauded films such as Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and A Scanner Darkly returned him to the realm of respected actor, but his appearance in Iron Man cemented him as an A-lister. Prior to this, he was practically unemployable as his drug problems made him very difficult to insure.
- The Cast Showoff: Downey writes music, sings and plays the piano quite well. As a result, this leads to some delightful showoff moments, including:
- Downey performed his own compositions in the movies Friends and Lovers and Two Girls and a Guy.
- The song played during the ending credits of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is a Downey original from his 2004 music album The Futurist.
- Downey's acclaimed musical performances on Ally McBeal include a version of Joni Mitchell's song "River" and a duet version of the song "Every Breath You Take" with Sting.
- Celebrity Paradox: Nobody is sure if he is actually Robert Downey Jr. or if he is, in fact, Tony Stark. Not even him.
- Harpo Does Something Funny: A noted ad-libber, Downey was vital in making the largely unscripted Iron Man as funny as it was. Tony Stark's "shawarma" line in The Avengers was also the result of a sequence of ad-libs. Also notable is that though Joss Whedon is the one who came up with Tony's quip to Thor about "Shakespeare In The Park," Downey is the one who decided to start taunting Thor about "weareth(ing his mother's) drapes."
- Meta Casting: Downey practically is Tony Stark, and really most of his later roles have been about talented men dealing with substance abuse problems.
- One of Us: Of the Stony shippers, in any case: After The Avengers, he has repeatedly claimed that Steve and Tony got married (Steve might have worn a dress, Clint caught the bouquet and Natasha thinks they're adorable). Then again, it's probably easier to name the slash ships involving his characters he hasn't teased in some way ("Mark Ruffalo and I are adopting a child. Tony Banner"). And let's not even get started on the Sherlock Holmes press tours. Add to this, he entered an Iron Man 3 presentation at the 2012 San Diego Comic-Con by dancing through the fans, wearing an Iron Man gauntlet on his right hand.
- He has also been declared Captain of the Pepperony ship. He fought for Gwyneth Paltrow to have a role in The Avengers, several quotes from him regarding Iron Man 3 are about Pepper and Tony's relationship, and when asked what he would have of Tony's if he could get it, he answered: "Pepper Potts."
- And now he and Gwyneth Paltrow call themselves "Pepperony." The fan reactions on tumblr ranged from "THIS IS THE GREATEST THING THAT HAS EVER HAPPENED" to "WAIT HOW MUCH DO THEY KNOW?!"
- He knows about "Captain Dorito,"note even referring to Chris Evans as "Dorito" at Comic-Con 2014.
- His official Facebook page is full of fan-made art, memes, Tumblr posts, etc. related to him or his work.
- Pretty Boy: Had boyish looks in his early days. Later in his career, he's got to be a Hunk.
- Promoted Fanboy: He's a fan of the Iron Man series.
- Romance on the Set: Met his current wife, producer Susan Levin, while making Gothika.
- Scully Box: He's just 5' 8'' (1,70m), so his superhero movies at times require him to wear high heels (as even his love interest co-star can tower over him◊ - though when both have proper shoes...◊).
- So My Kids Can Watch: Downey's teenage son is a fan of Family Guy, so he called the show's production staff and asked if he could be involved in making an episode. The result of that was Downey guest-starring on the episode in which Peter starts a pro-obese men advocacy group and Lois finds out that she has a long-lost brother who was put in a mental hospital after seeing his mom giving a blowjob to Jackie Gleason, which triggered Patrick's murderous hatred for fat men.
- Throw It In: Endlessly. Examples from The Avengers:
- As Joss Whedon noted, the "That man is playing Galaga!" line was ad-libbed, and worked so well that Whedon decided to dub in an image of Galaga on "that man's" console as the scene's punch line.
- Reportedly, Tony's "Let's just not come in tomorrow" speech was improvised, as was Tony taunting Thor with the line "Doth mother know thou weareth her drapes?"
- The shawarma gag was also his, so by proxy he threw in the entire second stinger.
- Type Casting: Oddly, Downey playing brilliant and dedicated yet deeply flawed heroes with a history of substance abuse (alcohol, cocaine) is what revived his career.