Robert Downey Jr had huge success and popularity during his youth.

Unfortunately, this success came at a price. It was followed by years of drugs abuse and many legal troubles. Yet he very successfully turned his life completely around, and is now at the top of his game.

Today, Robert Downey Jr is one of the most in demand, respected, and hugely liked actors in Hollywood.

Everyone sure loves a come back success story. Check out these 20 things you might not have known about the man behind Iron Man…

20. He released an album called ‘The Futurist.’

As well as being an actor, Robert Downey Jr. is quite the singer.

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He released his debut album, “The Futurist” in 2004 after a stint in rehab from which he emerged clean and sober, having kicked his drug addiction.

Credit: Warner Bros Entertainment

Despite his high profile as an actor, the album sales were not so good.

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Only 16,000 copies were sold in the first week after release, ranking 121 on the Billboard Charts.

Downey stated in 2006 that he would probably not do another album.

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He felt the energy that he put into making it was not compensated, and that he would rather be with his family instead of in the studio.

19. He was born into an acting family

Robert Downey Jr is the son of famous movie director Robert Downey Sr. and actress Elsie Downey, so acting runs in his veins.

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His first onscreen appearance was as a puppy in his father’s film Pound in 1970.

Robert Downey Sr. is both a writer and a director; his work gained an underground following in the ’60s.

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One of his best-known films is one called Putney Swope, a satire on the New York Madison avenue advertising world.

According to the film scholar, Wheeler Winston Dixon, Downey Sr.’s films were “strictly take-no-prisoners affairs, with minimal budgets and outrageous satire, effectively pushing forward the countercultural agenda of the day.”

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Robert’s mother, Elsie, starred in films such as Two Tons of Turquoise to Taos Tonight and Greaser’s Palace.

18. He dropped out of high school to pursue acting

Robert Downey Jr. dropped out of high school when he was only 17 years old.

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He quite Santa Monica High School in California where he studied in order to pursue a future in acting.

He moved to New York and struggled through part-time jobs whilst looking for acting gigs.

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To earn money, he waited on tables, performed in off-Broadway shows and was once hired as a piece of living art in a SoHo nightclub in New York City.

Robert Downey Jr. shows that hard work and dedication really pays off.

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So go out and chase your dreams and don’t let anything get in the way!

17. He trained in ballet

Whilst living in London, Robert Downey Jr. underwent gruelling ballet lessons at the famed Perry House in Chelsea.

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The actor has said that he attended the well-to-do establishment when he was only 10 years old.

He claims that he retained his rock ‘n’ roll persona by claiming he was always acting like a moron, rather than perfecting his pirouettes.

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He says, “I don’t want to say I did anything correctly at Perry House because the truth is that I spent my whole time there with my nose in the corner, being a moron.

“But yes, part of the studies there required that boys and girls did ballet.”

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We would have liked him to show off these skills at least once during his time playing Iron Man.

16. His father introduced him to drugs when he was only 6

Robert Downey Jr’s battle with addiction is well known. What is perhaps not as well known is that it started when the actor was only six years old.

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His father, Robert Downey Sr, gave Downey Jr a maijuana joint to try at the very young age.

Robert Downey Jr says of this: “[T]here was always a lot of pot and coke around… When my dad and I would do drugs together, it was like him trying to express his love for me in the only way he knew how.”

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By age eight he was addicted, worsening the older he got.

Robert Downey Jr said he’d, “spend every night out getting drunk [and] making a thousand phone calls in pursuit of drugs.”

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His father knew immediately that it was a stupid mistake to give him the joint and before Downey became a teenager, he would experiment further with weed, alcohol and narcotics.

15. One of his first loves was Sarah Jessica Parker

Robert Downey Jr. and the Sex and the City actress, Sarah Jessica Parker, met on the set of “Firstborn.”

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The pair were only 18 years old at the time, and they went on to live together for 8 years before breaking up in 1991.

Downey Jr has said on several occasions that his behaviour was the main cause of the separation.

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“I liked to drink, and I had a drug problem, and that didn’t jibe with Sarah Jessica because it is the furthest thing from what she is,” he confessed Parade in 2008.”

“She provided me a home and understanding. She tried to help me.”

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“She was so miffed when I didn’t get my act together.”

14. He practices martial arts

Credit: Marvel Studios

The actor is a devout martial artist, spending much of his free time in the practice of Wing Chun.

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Wing Chun is a concept-based Chinese martial art and form of self-defence.

Credit: Marvel Studios

Downey Jr started practicing the martial art in 2000 and credits it as the source of strength to overcome his drug addictions.

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In 2003, Downey Jr had a sudden realisation that made him take action on his addiction.

He threw all of the drugs in his possession into the ocean.

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This signified for him the break of the addiction cycle and the end of his drug abuse.

13. Despite being Iron Man, he’s not invincible

Even though he plays the ultimate on-screen superhero, Iron Man, Robert Downey Jr himself was easily flawed whilst shooting one of the films.

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In an interview, Downey Jr. recalls the exact moment it dawned on him that he was just as human as anyone else.

“I was doing a wire jump [on the set of Iron Man 3 ] and I got to the top of the stairs and I tripped, and banged my ankle.

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Susan came around the corner, she goes, “All right. Are you finally going to accept the fact that you’re injured and that you’re not a kid?

“Just look at you on the floor there. Look at you!”

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The real Iron Man would have had that ankle fixed in no time!

12. He has to wear high-heels on set

Downey Jr may be one of Hollywoods highest-paid actors, but he definitely isn’t the tallest one.

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Despite him being a not-so-shabby 5’8″, Robert often finds himself cast with co-stars who tower over him.

As a result, more than one director has made the actor wear high-heeled shoes and wedges on set, to make up for the difference on camera.

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The first time saw Guy Ritchie not too happy by the height gap between Downey Jr. and Jude Law whilst filming for Sherlock Holmes.

Ritchie coerced Downey Jr into wearing some platform footwear in order to bring him up to Law’s height.

Apparently the film’s outtakes are littered with scenes that are ruined by Downey Jr tripping up over his shoes.

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He was also forced to wear the platformed shoes when playing Tony Stark too, with Gwyneth Paltrow, Chris Hemsworth and Chris Evens all over 6ft.

The shoes are apparently now a staple of his wardrobe.

11. He has unlimited Burger King for life

Robert Downey Jr never has to pay for another Burger King in his life, something that we’re very jealous of.

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This is because he credits the burger company with partly saving his life.

The story goes that whilst at the height of his drug-using spiral into self-destruction, Downey Jr. was driving across state in a car loaded with drugs.

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He felt hungry so stopped at a roadside Burger King.

He was apparently confronted with the most awful meal he had ever had.

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Shocked at the horror of the food, the actor had a strong and sudden epiphany that something terrible was going to happen to him, and so spent the next few years getting his life back.

10. He was let out of rehab to shoot an Elton John music video

Whilst Robert Downey Jr was spending time in rehab, Elton John was in the process of recording his new album.

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The singer had enlisted Sam Taylor-Johnson to direct the music video for the song ‘I Want Love.’

Sam’s idea was simple. She wanted to have a lone male walk around an empty house, lip-syncing to the words.

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She didn’t want any lone male, however, she wanted Robert Downey Jr. The only problem was that he was in rehab at the time.

Speaking to MTV, the director said: “I thought, ‘God, the lyrics are very close to home. I wonder if he’ll do it.’

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He was very interested and it all came together in five or six days. We sent him the album and he said yes. I’m thrilled with it. I love the fact that it is a one-shot video. He did 16 takes and they used the very last one because he was completely relaxed by then. It’s so pertinent to what he was going through, and the way he underplays it is fantastic.”

9. He was set to play Hamlet in a Mel Gibson play

Mel Gibson’s adaptations are a bit of a sore spot in Hollywood.

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His retelling of the crucifixion story of Jesus was so badly-received, that Icon Film’s best outing since as been the Postman Pat movie.

Credit: Lionsgate

Before this, however, Gibson has his eye on the stage, and hoped to revive a version of Hamlet…the film which he’d originally formed the company to make.

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His first and only choice for the role was Downey Jr, and Gibson attached him to the project from the offset.

Unfortunately, after another series of arrests, Downey Jr was dropped from the part.

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As a result, and due to other logistical issues, the project was scrapped entirely.

8. To date, he is the first and only SNL actor to be nominated for a Best Actor Oscar

The list of people to appear on Saturday Night Live is a lengthy one, with many of America’s top acting talent appearing on the show.

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Robert Downey Jr was part of the sketch show for a couple of months.

He shares the billing with Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy, Will Ferrell, Steve Martin, Dan Ayckroyd to name only a few.

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Despite this, Downey Jr is currently the only actor to appear who has been nominated for the Best Actor award at the Oscars.

He received the nomination in 1993 after portraying Charlie Chaplin in the biopic of the actor’s life.

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The troupe is still waiting for its first winner of the award though.

7. He buried all his clothes from ‘Less Than Zero’ in his backyard.

Downey Jr was a member of the ‘Brat Pack,’ a group of young, talented actors during the 1980s. The Brat Pack days defined the early stages of his career.

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It is partly to due to the top-of-the-world lifestyle the collective had that he found himself on a self-destructive path during the 80s.

All of his hedonism stopped during the filming of Chaplin, the film that took Robert away from the debauchery of the Brat Pack lifestyle, and thrust him into serious acting.

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He wanted to set himself free from his form life, and so he took all the clothes he had worn on his final Brat Pack outing, Less Than Zero, and buried them all in his own backyard.

Speaking about the incident, Downey Jr recalls: “The next day I was, like: ‘F*ck, why did I do that?’ But four days later, I felt something drift away.”

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“The burial represents acknowledging how a lack of self-nurturing leads to gruesome results. It’s one thing to see the train coming, and another to get out of the way”. Unconventional logic, perhaps, but it worked.

6. He was room mates with Kiefer Sutherland

When he first moved to Los Angeles, Kiefer Sutherland set out on a search for an affordable apartment.

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As is most cases with people trying to make it in the business, he ended up moving in with a fellow struggling actor…Robert Downey Jr.

Whilst living together, the two of them would help each other out with parts.

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As well as sharing living space, the pair of them shared the screen in the 1988 film 1969 (confusing right.)

The film deals with the Vietnam War, and the resulting social tensions between those who are for and against it in small-town America.

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The film also stars Winona Ryder.

5. Sean Penn bust his door down to take him to rehab

In 1994, despite claiming he was clean, Robert had returned to booze, cocaine and ecstasy.

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A year later in 1995, he tried heroin for the first time. Downey Jr recognised he was out of control, but couldn’t seem to stop it.

The actor apparently referred to himself as the “loveable tornado,” who would bounce from rehab to film set to another drug binge and back again.

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He cited most of his acting performances as disappointing.

Fellow actor Sean Penn saw that he was wasting away and decided to do something about it. At one point, he took away Robert’s keys, kicked down his door and drove him to rehab.

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He said: “You have two reputations. I think you know what both of them are, and I think you’d do well to get rid of one of those reputations. If you don’t, it will get rid of the other one.”

4. He once walked out of a Martin Bashir interview

Robert Downey Jr once walked out of an interview with the famed Channel 4 personality, Martin Bashir.

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Downey was participating in a round of interviews to promote the new Avengers film.

Bashir wanted to steer away from the film and ask the actor more about his personal life.

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He asked Downey Jr if he thought he was free of all the drugs, booze and addiction of his earlier life.

Downey Jr, visibly not happy, asks what they are doing before finishing the interview.

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He says that Bashir is not a bad guy, but it was getting a little too “Diane Sawyer.”

3. He has been arrested twice

Robert Downey Jr was pulled over for speeding when officers discovered the actor was naked and hallucinating.

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He was allegedly throwing imaginary rats at the officers on the scene.

Downey’s first arrest happened on June 23, 1996 when he was again pulled over for speeding along the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu.

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During the arrest, small amounts of drugs were found in the car along with a .357 magnum.

Downey was arrested for a second time on July 16 1996, in what has become known as the Goldilocks incident.

Whilst awaiting trial, he wandered into his neighbour’s house in Malibu, stripped to his underwear and curled up in the empty bed of their 11 year old son.

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They called the police after failing to wake Downey Jr but did not file trespassing charges.

2. His time in jail was tough

Downey Jr’s first time in jail was tough for the actor and resulted in numerous fights.

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He reportedly woke up in a pool of his own blood twice.

Downey was the target of many fights due to his celebrity status.

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These fights resulted in the actor receiving many cuts and bruises.

After two months, he received a severe gash from a fight with three other inmates and had to be moved to solitary confinement.

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The actor was released after spending 113 days in prison.

1. Finishing on a light note, he has an unusual dream food

We thought we would finish on a light note and tell you about his unusual dream food.

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It’s not a conventional choice, but I personally like the sound of it.

“If I could eat whatever I wanted every day, I would have Domino’s pizza with pasta carbonara inside every slice.”

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“And at night I would have Neapolitan ice cream until I felt absolutely toxic.”

“And then I would drift off telling myself it’s going to be O.K, it’s going to be O.K. you’re going to train in the morning.”

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So there you have it folks, that’s the weird and wonderful life of Robert Downey Jr.