Robert Downey Jr. Biography

Biography by Published on Updated on 16 Feb, 2018
Facts of Robert Downey Jr.
Date of Birth: 1965 , April-4
Age: 56 years old
Birth Nation: United States of America
Height: 5 Feet 7 Inch
View more / View Less Facts of Robert Downey Jr.


American actor, Robert Downey Jr. is best known for his portrayal as Tony Stark *Iron Man) in the Iron Man franchise. He is also known for other hit movies, including 'The Avengers,’ 'Sherlock Holmes' and 'Chaplin.' Besides acting, he has sung soundtracks in the movies such as Chaplin, Two Girls and a Guy, Too Much Sun, Friends and Lovers, and The Singing Detective among others. 

Downey Jr. won for his performances in movies has won many awards including the BAFTA Awards for Best Actor, Golden Globe Awards for best actor, and People’s Choice Awards.  

Robert Downey Jr. married twice and has been linked to several women. He was first married to singer and actress, Deborah Falconer from 1992-2004. After that, he married Susan Levin, an Executive Vice president. 

Early Life

Robert John Downey Jr. was born on April 4, 1965, in Manhattan, New York City, New York, U.S. He is the younger child born to Robert Downey Sr, an actor, and filmmaker and Elsie Ann (née Ford), an actress who appeared in Downey Sr.'s films.

Downey Jr. is American and belongs to Mixed ethnicity. His father is of half Lithuanian Jewish, one-quarter Hungarian Jewish, and one-quarter Irish descent, while his mother was of Scottish, German, and Swiss ancestry.

Robert Downey Jr. was raised along with his older sister, Allyson in Greenwich Village. Downey's father, a drug addict, allowed him to use marijuana when he was just six and now lives in regret of that decision. Both father and son used to do drugs together, which Downey in an interview said felt like a way of bonding with his father. He then started to spend every night abusing alcohol making thousands of calls in need of drugs. 

Downey used to appear in minor roles in his father's movies during his early days. He debuted in acting at the age of five appearing in the movie, Pound (1970). In 1972, he then worked in the American acid western film, Greaser's Palace, a movie directed by his father. 

In 1975, Downey studied classical ballet as part of the larger curriculum in England. Later, he attended the Stagedoor Manor Performing Arts Training Center in upstate New York.

Downey's parents divorced when he was 13 years old. He started living with his father in California following his parents' divorce.

In 1982, Downey dropped out of his school, Santa Monica High School to start his career in acting. Downey and Kiefer Sutherland were roommates for three years when he first moved to Hollywood to pursue a career in acting. They starred in the 1988 drama film, 1969. 


Robert Downey Jr. began his professional acting career with a short-lived off-Broadway play, American Passion in 1983 at the Joyce Theater. He joined the cast of Saturday Night Live (SNL) in 1985, but due to the poor ratings of the show, Downey and other new crew members were replaced. Even Rolling Stone magazine named him the worst SNL cast member at the time. 

The following year, Downey was cast in the movies such as Tuff Turf and Weird Science receiving critical acclamation for his work. 

Downey landed his first lead role in 1987 American romantic comedy film, The Pick-up Artist as Jack Jericho, alongside cast Molly Ringwald, Dennis Hopper, Danny Aiello, and Harvey Keitel

Robert Downey Jr. then starred in American drama film, Less Than Zero in 1987. He portrayed Julian Wells, a drug-addict rich boy whose life rapidly spirals out of his control. The audience and critics highly appreciated his performance in the movie. 

Before this, Downey made uncredited appearances in the movies including Greaser's Palace (1972), Moment to Moment (1975) and Up the Academy (1980), and Baby It's You (1983).  

In 1988, Downey worked in the movies, 'Johnny Be Good,' 'Rented Lips' and '1969'. The following year he did movies like That's Adequate, True Believer, and Chances Are

Downey played in a 1992 British-American biographical comedy-drama film, 'Chaplin' appearing opposite Dan Aykroyd, Geraldine Chaplin, Kevin Dunn, Anthony Hopkins, Milla Jovovich, Moira Kelly, and Kevin Kline, among others. 

In 1993, Downey featured in the American fantasy comedy-drama film, 'Heart, and Souls,' starring Alfre Woodard, Kyra Sedgwick, and others. The same year, he appeared in 'The Last Party,' and 'Short Cuts.' 

In 1994, Downey worked in other movies, 'Hail Caesar,' 'Natural Born Killers', and 'Only You.' In 1995, he appeared in 'Home for the Holidays,' 'Richard III, Mr.' 'Willowby’s Christmas Tree,' and 'Restoration.' 

Career Struggles

Downey has been arrested several times for drug-related charges (using cocaine, heroin, and marijuana) from 1996 to 2001. He tried all the possible way to stop himself from taking drugs, but every time it got worst. In 1999 explaining to judges, Downey said, 

"It's like I have a shotgun in my mouth, and I've got my finger on the trigger, and I like the taste of the gun metal." 

Downey also stated he was on drugs since the age of 8 because of his father and that time he had no idea about its consequences. In 1996, Robert Downey Jr. arrested while he was speeding down Sunset Boulevard for possession of cocaine, heroin, and an unloaded .357 Magnum handgun. 

After a month of this incident, he broke into one of his neighbor's house and found asleep in the bedroom under the influence of a controlled substance. He was charged with three years probation and required to undergo drug testing.

In 1997, Downey spent six months in Los Angeles county prison for missing one of the court-ordered drug tests. In 1999, he missed the drug test for the second time for which the judge declared a punishment of three years at the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison in Corcoran, California. Due to this reason his film ventures had wrapped and even closed to release whereas he was allowed to complete the filming of, 'In Dreams.' 

After imprisonment, his career took a downfall as he was fired from several projects including NBC animated series, 'God, the Devil, and Bob.' In 2000, Downey was unexpectedly released on condition of posting $5,000 bail, as the judge stated that his combined time in prison(first arrest in 1996) had qualified for his early release.

After a week of his freedom, he was cast in the TV series, 'Ally McBeal' and his performance was appreciated by the audiences and critics.

Downey received the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor in a mini-series or television film for 'Ally McBeal.' He also sang a duet, "Every Breath You Take" with Sting in an episode of the series. However, he claimed his performance was overrated,

"It was my lowest point in terms of addictions. At that stage, I didn't give a fuck whether I ever acted again."

Downey was to play the role of Hamlet in a Los Angeles production in 2001. Before the end of final episode on Ally McBeal, he was again arrested for using drugs. The police responded to the anonymous 911 call and searched his rooms at Merv Griffin's Hotel and Givenchy Spa in Palm Springs, California, and they found him under the influence of controlled substance with possession of cocaine and Valium.

In 2001, while on parole, he was again taken into custody for suspicion of being under the influence of drugs in LA and found him wandering barefoot in Culver City. However, he was released after few hours despite the fact that he had cocaine in his blood.

The arrest led him getting fired from the 'Ally McBeal,' and he lost a role in the high-profile film America's Sweethearts. Mel Gibson also canceled the Hamlet production due to Downey's recent incarceration.

Robert Downey Jr. pleaded no contest to his charges and sent into drug rehabilitation and was put on a three years probation with the aim of helping nonviolent drug offenders overcome their addictions instead of sending them to jail.

In December 2000 for People magazine article, Bad to Worse, Downey's stepmom, Rosemary told, he had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder a few years ago and added his manic depression was 

 "the reason he has a hard time staying sober. What hasn't been tried is medication and intensive psychotherapy"

In the same article, Dr. Manijeh Nikakhtar, LA-based psychiatrist revealed in 1999, she received a letter from Downey during his time at Corcoran II, asking to advise for his condition. 

However, in March 2007 issue of Esquire, Robert Downey Jr. denied the fact of being bipolar, he even stated he received several calls from "the Bipolar Association" questioning him about his condition.

Career Success

Downey, overcoming many hurdles in his career, he finally recovered from his dependency on drugs and returned to working as an actor. In August 2001, he got his first post-rehab acting job in the Elton John's single video, I Want Love.

With the help of his friend, Mel Gibson, Downey succeeded to return to the big screen, Gibson paid Downey's insurance bond for 'The Singing Detective' (2003). He returned to the mainstream with thrill film, 'Gothika,' however, his 40 percent salary was withheld until after production wrapped as insurance against his addictive behavior.

Later Downey appeared in a number of movies including 'A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints,' 'Good Night,' 'Good Luck,' 'A Scanner Darkly,' and 'Zodiac.' In 2004, he talked about his addictive behavior on Oprah Winfrey show.

In 2006, Downey made his comeback in small screen with a guest role in one of the episodes of 'Family Guy.' He also signed with Harper Collins to write a memoir which included his highs and lows. However, in 2008 he canceled the book without further comment. 

Downey successfully re-established himself in the film industry but didn't taste the blockbuster till 2008 appearing in 'Iron Man' and 'Tropic Thunder.' After the success, the national and international audiences recognized him as Iron Man. 

Later Downey was cast in 'The Avengers' as Iron Man. He reprised his role again in 'Iron Man 2' (2010), 'Avengers: Age of Ultron' (2015), 'Captain America: Civil War' (2016), and Spider-Man: Homecoming' (2017). 

Downey appeared in British-American neo-noir mystery period action film, 'Sherlock Holmes.' He won a Golden Globe for his performance. His other screen credit includes 'The Soloist,' 'Due Date', 'Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows' and
among others. 

Robert Downey Jr. enrolled himself in singing too. He sang soundtracks for various films such as 'Chaplin, Too Much Sun,' 'Two Girls and a Guy,' 'Friends and Lovers,' 'The Singing Detective,' and 'Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.'

In 2004, Downey released his first musical album, 'The Futurist,' while promoting his film, 'Tropic Thunder.' The album received mixed reviews from audiences and critics. His most successful singing venture till the date was a remake of the 1973 Joni Mitchell's Christmas song "River."The song was included on the album of 'Ally McBeal: A Very Ally Christmas' in 2000.

Political Views

Downey stated in 2008 interview that his political view changed after his time in prison,

"I have a really interesting political point of view, and it's not always something I say too loud at dinner tables here, but you can't go from a $2,000-a-night suite at La Mirage to a penitentiary and really understand it and come out a liberal. You can't. I wouldn't wish that experience on anyone else, but it was very, very, very educational for me and has informed my proclivities and politics ever since."

In 2015 when asked about his previous statement during the promotion of Avengers: Age of Ultron, he denied that it reflected any longstanding beliefs on his part, and corrected, "I wouldn't say that I'm a Republican or a liberal or a Democrat."

Robert Downey Jr. is also on the board of the Anti-Recidivism Coalition. He along with other celebs appeared in a commercial, encouraging people to vote in the 2016 election.

Awards And Nominations

 year   Tittle   Award
 1993  Chaplin

 Nominated- Academy Award for Best Actor

 Nominated- Golden Globe Award for Best Actor- Motion Picture Drama

 BAFTA Award for Best Actor in leading role 

 1994  Short Cuts  Golden Globe Awards for Best Cast
 2001  Ally McBeal 

Nominated- Screen Actors Awards for Oustanding performance by Ensemble in a  Comedy Series 
Nominated- Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy  Series

Golden Globe Awards for Best Supporting Actor in  Series, Miniseries or  Television Film

Screen Actors Guild Awards for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a     Comedy Series 

 2004  The Singing Detective

Nominated- Satellite Awards for Best Actor in Motion picture Musical or Comedy 

 2005  Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

Nominated- Satellite Awards for Best Actor in Motion picture Musical or Comedy 

   "Broken" (from Kiss Kiss Bang Bang)

Nominated- Satellite Awards for best Orginal Song (with Mark Hudson)

 2006  Kiss Kiss Bang Bang 

Nominated- Saturn Award for Best Actor 

   Good Night, and Good Luck

Nominated- Guild Awards for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture 

 2008   Tropic Thunder    

Nominated- critics' Choice Movie Award for Best Supporting Actor 

 Nominated- Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actor in Motion picture 

   Iron Man 

Nominated- Teen Choice Awards for Choice Movie Actor in Action

 2009  Tropic Thunder    

Nominated- Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actor

Nominated- BAFTA Award for Best Actor in Supporting Role 

Nominated- Golden Globe Awards for Best Supporting Actor in Motion Picture

Nominated- Screen Actors Guild Awards for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role

Nominated- Teen Choice Awards for Choice Movie: Hissy Fit

   Iron Man 

Nominated- Empire Awards for Best Actor 

Nominated- MTV Movie Awards for Best Male Performance

Nominated- People's Choice Awards for Favorite Male Action Star, Favorite Male Movie Star, and Favorite Superhero

Saturn Award for Best Actor


Sherlock Holmes    


Nominated- Empire Awards for Best Actor

Nominated- MTV Movie Awards for Best Fight (with Mark Strong)

Nominated- Saturn Awards for Best Actor 

Nominated- Teen Choice Awards for Choice Movie Actor: Action

Golden Globe Awards for Best Actor in Motion Picture Musical or Comedy

   Iron Man 2

Nominated- Teen Choice Awards for Choice Movie Actor: Sci-Fi, Choice Movie: Dance, and Choice Movie: Fight (with Don Cheadle)

2011   Iron Man 2

Nominated- Kids' Choice Awards for Favorite Butt Kicker 

Nominated- People's Choice Awards for     Favorite Actor Star, Favorite Movie Actor, and Favorite On-Screen Team (with Don Cheadle). 

Nominated- Saturn Awards for Best Actor 

   Due Date  Nominated- Teen Choice Awards for Choice Movie Hissy Fit
 2012  The Avengers  

Nominated- Critics' Choice Movie Award for Best Actor in an Action Movie

Nominated- Teen Choice Awards for Choice Movie Actor: Sci-Fi/Fantasy

 2013  Iron Man 3

Nominated- Critics' Choice Movie Award for Best Actor in an Action Movie

Nominated- Teen Choice Awards for Choice Movie Actor: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, and Choice Movie: Chemistry (with Don Cheadle)

   The Avengers    

Nominated- Empire Awards for Best Actor

Nominated- Kids' Choice Awards for Favorite Male Butt Kicker

Nominated- MTV Movie Awards for Best Hero and Best On-Screen Duo (with Mark Ruffalo)

MTV Movie Awards for Best Fight (with The Avengers cast)

People's Choice Awards for Favorite Movie Actor, and Favorite Movie Superhero. 

2014  Iron Man 3

Nominated- Kids' Choice Awards for Favorite Movie Actor

Kids' Choice Awards for Favorite Male Butt Kicker

People's Choice Awards for Favorite Action Movie Actor

Saturn Awards for Best Actor 

 2015  The Judge

People's Choice Awards for Favorite Movie Actor

 2016  Avengers: Age of Ultron

Nominated- People's Choice Awards for Favorite Movie Actor, and Favorite Action Movie Actor

2017  Captain America: Civil War

Nominated- Kids' Choice Awards for Favorite Frenemies (shared with Chris Evans), and #Squad (shared with cast)

Nominated- People's Choice Awards for Favorite Movie Actor

People's Choice Awards for Favorite Action Movie Actor

Net Worth

Robert Downey Jr. is one of the highest paid Hollywood actors. He charged more than $50 million per movie. In 2013-2014 Downey's net worth was $75 million, and in 2014-15 he earned $80 million, and by 2017 his net worth hiked to $260 million.

In 2013, Downey charged $100 million to reprise his role in Iron Man 3 which was the highest amount charged by any star in the history of Hollywood. He has appeared in many movies which were successful in monetary terms. He has given many hits to his audiences, and some of his highest grossing movies are listed below;

 Movies        Budget (USD)

 Box office Collection (USD)

 The Avengers    $220 million  

  $1.519 billion

 Tropic Thunder    $92 million  

  $188.1 million

 Iron Man  $140 million 

  $585.2 million

 Iron Man 3    $178.4 million

  $1.215 billion

 Captain America: Civil War  $250 million

 $1.153 billion

 Spider-Man: Homecoming   $175 million 

 $880.2 million

 Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows   $125 million 

 $545.4 million

 Zodiac   $65 million  

 $84.8 million

 Weird Science  $7.5 million 

 $38.9 million

As per some online sources, he would be paid $200 million for his next Avengers films. 

In 2017, Downey brought a house at windmill cottage in Esat Hampton which cost him $10.5 million. The property located in the four-acre area has 3 car garage and 50-foot pool. He also owned $3.8 million estate in Malibu.

Downey is one of those actors who raised voice for his co-stars. In 2013, when he got paid $50 million for Iron Man 3, his co-stars were only paid $200,000 for which he felt unjustified and took a stand for them.

Robert Downey has car collection of various brands including Audi R8 ($164,150), Bentley Continental GT ($240,000), Mercedes-Benz G-Class ( $120,000), Nissan GT-R ($100,000), Ferrari California T ($231,606), Audi A8 L ($92,975),Cadillac Escalade ($84,090), Range Rover ($36,350) and many more. In the late 1990s when Downey was arrested for drug addiction, he was charged $5000 as fine. 

Personal Life

Robert Downey Jr. married his lady love, Susan Levin Downey in August 2005. The duo exchanged vows in a Jewish ceremony at Amagansett, New York. The popular musician Sting and Billy Idol performed at their wedding. Susan Downey is an Executive Vice President of Silver Pictures.

The duo first met on the sets of Downey's movie, Gothika from where their love bloomed though she turned down his romantic advances twice. At first, Susan Downey wasn't sure that their relationship would last after the completion of shooting because she thought, Robert Downey is an actor and she has a real job.

However, the couple continued their love affair after the production of Gothika wrapped. Robert Downey proposed Susan on the night before her 30th birthday. He tattooed, Suzie Q on his biceps in order to honor his wife. The duo is proud parents of two children, a son Exton Elias Downey (born on February 2012) and a daughter, Avri Roel Downey (born on November 2014).

The duo founded their own production company, Team Downey on June 14, 2010. Their first project was legal drama film, The Judge which was released in 2014.

Since July 2003, Downey is drug-free and he credits his wife, Susan for helping him overcome drug addiction along with his family, yoga, therapy, meditation, the practice of Wing Chun kung fu in the martial arts and twelve-step recovery programs. In December 2015, Governor of California Jerry Brown awarded him full and unconditional pardon for his prior drug convictions.

Previously, Robert Downey married actress/singer Deborah Falconer on May 29, 1992, in an intimate ceremony. The couple tied theed the knot after dating for just 42 days. The pair is blessed with a son, Indio Falconer Downey, born in September 1993. His close friend, Anthony Michael Hall is his child's godfather.

The pair tried their best to save their marriage but Downey's repeated trips to rehab and drug addiction started affecting their married life. In 2001, Falconer left him and took their son with her after Downey's rehab period got extended and he was again imprisoned for drug issue.

The couple separated in 2001 but their divorce was finalized on April 26, 2004. After the divorce, Downey kept a healthy relationship with Falconer for the sake of their son.

Downey also dated actress Sarah, Jessica Parker. The duo first encountered on the sets of Firstborn and eventually fell in love. However, the couple broke up in 1991 because of the Downey's drug addiction. He was also linked to actresses including Marisa Tomei, Calista Flockhart, and Winona Ryder.

Downey used to be a huge fan of Iron Man comics during his early days, and his favorite actor is Peter O'Toole. He shares a good bonding with Anthony Michael Hall, Ramon Estevez, Mel Gibson, Mark Ruffalo, Jamie Foxx, Scarlett Johansson, Elizabeth Olsen, Johnny Depp.

Downey referred to Mel Gibson as one of his best friends who always stands for him. He defended Gibson during the controversy of The Passion of the Christ, and said: "nobody's perfect." Even, Downey chose Gibson to present him the 25th American Cinematheque Awards.

His co-star from Sherlock Holmes, Rachel McAdam called him a "superhero" for his "committed" work ethic during a panel discussion. On the same panel, Downey stated he spends hours and weekends to make his character, Holmes look perfect for the movie.

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