Robert Downey Jr.’s rise to fame as one of Hollywood’s A-listers and highest earners is an inspiring story of perseverance and personal growth. Downey’s career has had both exhilarating highs and crushing lows, from his early days as a child actor in his father’s films to a more recent period marked by addiction and public scrutiny.
His meteoric rise to fame was catalyzed by a series of events, including a disastrous season as a host of Saturday Night Live and a chance meeting with Madonna. Downey’s name is now inextricably linked to classic roles like Tony Stark in the MCU, but he didn’t always have it that way.
From Working With His Father To Saturday Night Live
Robert Downey Jr
Thanks to his father, acclaimed director Robert Downey Sr., Downey got his start in the entertainment industry at a young age. His early roles in films like Pound and Greaser’s Palace not only highlighted his talent but also introduced him to the drug culture of 1960s and 1970s New York, an addiction from which he would later suffer.
Despite the close relationship between father and son, Downey Jr.’s drug abuse would eventually get out of hand and put his personal life and professional success in jeopardy. When Downey was invited to join the cast of Saturday Night Live for its eleventh season in 1985, he jumped at the chance.
Robert Downey Jr Saturday Night Live
Downey’s appearance on Season 11 of Saturday Night Live in 1985 was a watershed moment in his career. Downey, then only 20, joined the cast alongside rising stars like Anthony Michael Hall, Joan Cusack, and Randy Quaid. Downey had little prior experience in comedic roles. Season 11 would be remembered as one of the worst in the show’s history.
The season was hampered by bad writing and an untrained cast trying to make people laugh. In Season 12, Downey was one of the six new cast members who did not return. As a guest host during Season 11, Madonna famously declared the following season to be a “horrible, horrible dream.”
Downey took the brunt of the criticism; Rolling Stone called him the worst Saturday Night Live performer ever. Although Downey found the experience discouraging, it did have a positive outcome.
His membership in the Brat Pack, a group of successful child actors in the 1980s, was guaranteed by his association with Anthony Michael Hall. Downey’s star power would skyrocket once he became associated with these heavy hitters.
When Robert Downey Jr. Began Making It Big In Hollywood
Robert Downey Jr
It wasn’t until Downey’s 1987 performance in Less Than Zero that he began to receive widespread attention as an actor. Downey’s performance as a privileged cocaine addict was lauded for its realism and depth.
The character was a chilling portent of Downey’s future battles with addiction, and that was the point. The film served as a watershed moment in his career, drawing praise from critics who saw his potential.
Despite some downfalls, Robert Downey Jr’s career took a surprising turn in 2008 when he was chosen to play Tony Stark/Iron Man in the MCU. Downey’s charismatic and nuanced performance as the flawed billionaire turned superhero won over critics and audiences around the world.
Not only did Iron Man launch the wildly successful Marvel franchise, but it also marked a triumphant return to form for Downey. His subsequent films, such as The Avengers and Spider-Man: Homecoming, showcased his acting prowess and cemented his position as a top Hollywood star.
Fast forward 29 years after Madonna’s damning comments, and Robert Downey Jr., as reported by Forbes, has emerged as the highest-paid actor in the world. He has shown remarkable tenacity, resolve, and consistency in his talent, and it has paid off handsomely.