The dashing and debonair Hollywood star, who won our hearts with his portrayal of Tony Stark in 'Iron Man' and that of Sherlock Holmes, turns 50 today. On the occasion of Robert Downey Jr's birthday, we bring you a list of 10 interesting facts about the flamboyant actor that you may not have known.
Robert Downey Jr. Pic/AFP
1. Robert Downey Jr. made his debut as an actor at the age of five in the film 'Pound' (1970), written and directed by his father, Robert Downey Sr. He played a sick puppy in this absurdist comedy about several dogs (played by humans) waiting at a pound (animal shelter) to be put to sleep.
2. His father exposed him to drugs when he was six years old and he got addicted to them by the age of eight.
3. Robert Downey Jr. attended the Perry House School in Chelsea, London and studied classical ballet at the age of 10.
4. Downey Jr. dropped out of Santa Monica High School in California at the age of 17 to become an actor. His first jobs included moving tables at Central Falls restaurant, working at a shoe-store and performing as 'living art' at an underground club.
5. His drug-related problems increased from 1996 to 2001, leading to arrests, imprisonments and rehab visits. He was fired from the TV series 'Ally McBeal' after two drug arrests in 2000 and 2001. Downey Jr. began to rebuild his career after emerging clean and sober in 2003.
6. In 2004, Robert Downey Jr. released a music album titled 'The Futurist'. He has lent his voice to soundtracks in his films like 'Chaplin', 'The Singing Detective' and 'Kiss Kiss Bang Bang'. His most commercially successful number has been his rendition of the 1973 Joni Mitchell song 'River', which his character, Larry Paul in 'Ally McBeal', performs in the episode 'Tis the Season'.
Robert Downey Jr. performs his rendition of the 1973 Joni Mitchell song 'River' in 'Ally McBeal' episode 'Tis the Season'. Pic/YouTube
7. When Robert Downey Jr. arrived in Japan for the premiere of his 2008 film 'Iron Man', he was detained at the Narita International Airport in Tokyo for his legal troubles in the past and was interrogated for six hours.
8. Two of Downey's films, 'The Avengers' and 'Iron Man 3', have earned over 1 billion dollars each. He tops the Forbes list of Hollywood's highest-paid actors with an estimated 75 million dollars in earnings between June 2012 and June 2013.
9. He earned his first Oscar nomination for Best Actor for starring as Charlie Chaplin in 'Chaplin' (1992), a role for which he learnt how to play the violin and tennis left-handed. However, he lost the award to Al Pacino in 'Scent of a Woman'.
Robert Downey Jr. starred in and as 'Chaplin' (1992). Pic/YouTube
10. Robert Downey Jr. is the first and, so far, the only actor to win a Golden Globe for portraying Sherlock Holmes. He also won a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in 'Ally McBeal' in 2000.