The drug-filled life of Robert Downy Jr!
Early life and family:
Downey was born in Manhattan, New York City, the younger of two children. His father, Robert Downey Sr., is an actor and filmmaker, while his mother, Elsie Ann was an actress who appeared in Downey Sr.’s films. Downey’s father is of half Lithuanian-Jewish, one-quarter Hungarian-Jewish, and one-quarter Irish descent, while Downey’s mother had Scottish, German, and Swiss ancestry. Robert’s original family name was Elias which was changed by his father to enlist in the Army. Downey and his older sister Allyson grew up in Greenwich Village.
As a child, Downey was “surrounded by drugs.” His father, a drug addict, allowed Downey to use marijuana at age six, an incident that his father later said he regretted. Downey 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 is the only way he knew how.”
RDJ drug addiction era:
From 1996 through 2001, Downey was arrested numerous times on charges related to drugs including cocaine, heroin, and marijuana and went through drug treatment programs unsuccessfully, explaining in 1999 plead to a judge: “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 gunmetal.”
In April 1996, Downey was arrested for possession of heroin, cocaine, and an unloaded handgun while he was speeding down Sunset Boulevard. A month later, while on parole, he trespassed into a neighbor’s home while under the influence of a controlled substance, and fell asleep in one of the beds. He received three years of probation and was ordered to undergo drug testing. In 1997, he missed one of the court-ordered drug tests and had to spend six months in the Los Angeles County jail.
After Downey missed another required drug test in 1999, he was arrested once more. Despite Downey’s lawyer, John Stewart Holden, assembling the same team of lawyers that defended O.J. Simpson, Downey was sentenced to a three-year prison term at the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison in Corcoran, California.
After spending nearly a year in the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison, on condition of posting a $5,000 bail, was unexpectedly freed. 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.
Thanksgiving 2000 holiday, Downey was arrested when his room 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. If convicted, he would have faced a prison sentence of up to four years and eight months.
In April 2001, while he was on parole, a Los Angeles police officer found him wandering barefooted in Culver City. 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 he was sent into drug rehabilitation and received three years of probation.
In a December 18, 2000 article for People magazine entitled “Bad to Worse”, Downey’s stepmother Rosemary told author Alex Tresnlowski, that Downey had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder “a few years ago” and added that his bipolar disorder was “the reason he has a hard time staying sober.
Downey maintains that he has been drug-free since July 2003, and has credited his wife with helping him overcome his drug and alcohol habits, along with his family, therapy, meditation, twelve-step recovery programs, yoga, and the practice of Wing Chun kung fu, the martial art he learned from Eric Oram, who is also a fight consultant in several of Downey’s movies. Oram was Downey’s personal fight coordinator in Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America: Civil War. In December 2015, Downey received a full and unconditional pardon from Governor of California Jerry Brown for his prior drug convictions.