Robert Downey Jr. in an unknown location in 2009.
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Robert Downey Jr.
Forecourt Ceremony held on Monday, December 7, 2009
Born: April 4, 1965, in New York City, New York
Age at the time of the ceremony: 44
Robert Downey Jr. is the movie star of the age. Most people like him as a performer very much, but he has had his share of drug-related problems. He has come up from nowhere to headline in a string of cash-cow films, playing the comic book superhero Tony Stark / Iron Man in the Stan Lee's Marvel Cinematic Universe. Who would have thunk it?

Robert Downey Jr.'s father was the actor and director Robert Downey Sr., whose great claim to fame is the underground comedy film Putney Swope. (released in July 1969). Swope was a startling success, allowing Downey Sr. to make more of his decidedly oddball films.

Son Robert Jr. played the role of "puppy" in his father's film Pound (released in August 1970) with Joe Madden. By now, Sr. had allowed Jr. to smoke pot, introducing the lad to the world of recreational drugs while living in the Village. Jr.'s parents divorced when he was ten. He packed off to England to study ballet (!), returning to the Stagedoor Manor Performing Arts Training Center in Sheldrake New York, in the later 1970s.

Living in LA with Dad, Robert dropped out of Santa Monica High in 1982, and headed to New York City to make the big time; his roommate during this period was Keifer Sutherland. After doing off-Broadway shows, Downey was in the new cast of Saturday Night Live starting in November 1985, but the entire cast got poor ratings and was replaced rather quickly.

Popular director John Hughes cast Downey as a bully in Weird Science (released in August 1985) with Anthony Michael Hall; the Hughes connection got Downey a role in Rodney Dangerfield's comedy Back to School (released in June 1986).

But it was director James Toback who headlined Downey with Molly Ringwald in The Pick-up Artist (released in September 1987. Playing drug-casualty Julian in Less Than Zero (released in November 1987) with Andrew McCarthy, made Downey exaggerate his own drug use off set. Despite this, Downey was seen in the big time alright: Air America (which had its World Premiere at the Chinese on August 9, 1990) with Mel Gibson, and Soapdish (which played the Chinese in May 1991) with Sally Field.

For director Richard Attenborough, Downey immersed himself in the world of Charles Chaplin (released in December 1992) with Geraldine Chaplin. Downey got an Oscar nomination for this film. In director Robert Altman's ensemble piece, Short Cuts (premiered at the Venice Film Festival in September 1993) Downey played husband to Lilli Taylor.

For director Oliver Stone, Downey played tabloid muckracker Wayne Gale in Natural Born Killers (which played the Chinese in August 1994) with Woodly Harrelson. For director Jodie Foster, Downey played Holly Hunter's kookie, messed-up brother Tommy in Home for the Holidays (released in November 1995); wonderful movie.

Downey had the lead in the period picture Restoration (released in December 1995) with Sam Neill, then starred as Tommy Lee Jones' sidekick in U.S. Marshals (which played the Chinese in March 1998). Downey took a role in the comedy Bowfinger (released in August 1999) with Steve Martin, and Wonder Boys (released in February 2000) with Michael Douglas.

By this time, Downey had been arrested on drug charges several times; he missed a parole drug test in 1999, which sent him to California State Prison for a year, getting out early for good behavior. To get back in the swing of things, Downey took a role as a new romantic interest for 25 episodes of Ally McBeal as Larry Paul, aired over the Fox Network from October 2000 to April 2002. Downey got a Golden Globe Award for his work on the show. While boosting the McBeal ratings, Downey was unable to remain clean, so the show runners fired him and wrote his character out of the show.

To help bring Downey back, Mel Gibson hired him to star in a film of The Singing Detective (released in November 2003) with Robin Wright. It bombed. Downey appeared in a whole raft of supporting roles in various films, most notably as CBS News producer Joe Wersba for director George Clooney in Good Night, and Good Luck (released in November 2005) with David Strathairn.

Finally, director Jon Favreau insisted on Downey playing Tony Stark in Iron Man (released in May 2008) with Gwyneth Paltrow. The film was a whopping hit, and was followed by another big-budget hit Tropic Thunder (released in August 2008) with Jack Black.

So Downey's career was back on track. He played journalist Steve Lopez in The Soloist (released in April 2009) with Jamie Foxx, and had his Chinese Theatre Forecourt ceremony just before his opening in the title role of Sherlock Holmes (which played the Chinese in December 2009) with Jude Law, which became a substantial hit.

Iron Man 2 (released in May 2010) with Gwyneth Paltrow, established Downey in the Iron Man franchise, while Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (released in December 2011) with Jude Law, established him in another. His detailed performances in these films carry them to a large degree.

The character of Tony Stark takes up a lot of time for Downey. In between The Avengers (released in May 2012) with Chris Evans, and Iron Man 3 (released in May 2013) with Gwyneth Paltrow, Downey took a small role in Chef (released in May 2014) with Jon Favreau as director and star.

Then back to Stark. In addition to playing Stark / Iron Man in various Marvel Universe projects, he has also led the pack (meaning, he gets top-billing) in Avengers: Age of Ultron (which played the Chinese in May 2015) with Chris Evans and Avengers: Infinity War (played the Chinese in April 2018) with Chris Hemsworth.

On Tuesday, April 23, 2019, just prior to the opening of Avengers: Endgame (played the Chinese in April 2019), Downey became the first person to be imprinted in the Forecourt on two occassions, only this time with fellow Avengers cast members Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson and producer Kevin Feige.

He has starred in the title role of the second remake of Doolittle (released in January 2020) with Antonio Banderas., kinda flopped in the US, but has done OK internationally. He produced a very moving tribute to his father, Robert Downey Sr., called, Sr., released over Netflix in September 2022.

Downey received major buzz for his portrayal of Lewis Strauss in Oppenheimer (which played the Chinese in July 2023). Downey received so much buzz that he won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for the film.
Grauman's Chinese Theatre, Hollywood, California. Robert Downey Jr. Forecourt block. Executed by unknown, Monday, December 7, 2009. 41 x 37 inches.
Grauman's Chinese Theatre, Hollywood, California. Robert Downey Jr. Forecourt ceremony, Monday, December 7, 2009. Robert Downey Jr., having done his handprint, flashes a victory sign all across the world.
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