Perhaps the biggest redemption story at the heart of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is the one that unfolded behind the scenes. Robert Downey Jr. was on his way to becoming one of the greatest actors of his generation before his addiction took him down a very different path. The performer made headlines in the late ’90s and early ’90s, not for his acting skills, but for repeatedly getting into trouble with drugs. A quintessentially Hollywood story, perhaps, but heartbreaking nonetheless. It’s crazy to remember that just a few years before stepping into Iron Man’s boots, Downey was an ungrateful person in the film industry.
According to his wife, Susan Downey, the actor came clean in 2003. Slowly, Downey began to rebuild his career, leading to his rather meteoric rise after taking on the role of Tony Stark in 2008’s ‘Iron Man’ – a part that the studio was very hesitant to hire him due to his past difficulties. Downey worked his way out of a quagmire that few have truly escaped and liquidated one of Hollywood’s most bankable and respected stars.
As someone who has been recovering for years, Downey’s character in “Less Than Zero” has long resonated with me. I rewatched the movie recently and that tennis court scene still breaks my heart, as I remember having similar conversations with my own family. Downey’s performance is an absolute punch. I’m grateful every day that my story didn’t end in tragedy like Julian’s, and I still find Downey’s journey incredibly inspiring. The truth is that our chances are not great and addiction is an enemy that is never truly defeated. The best each of us can do is take it one day at a time.