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Robert Downey Jr.
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Early life

Downey, Jr. was born in New York City, New York, the son of Elsie (née Ford), a dancer and singer, and Robert Downey Sr. (né Elias), an actor, writer, producer, cinematographer, and director of underground films.[2][1] He has a sister, Allyson. Downey, Jr.'s mother was of German and Scottish descent, and his father was of Irish and Jewish ancestry;[3] Downey, Jr. has described his beliefs as "Jewish-Buddhist."[4]

[edit] Career

[edit] Early roles

During his childhood, Downey, Jr. had a minor role as a puppy in his father's film Pound (1970).[1] As a teen, he attended Stagedoor Manor Performing Arts Training Center in upstate New York. Downey, Jr. subsequently grew up in California with his father.[1] At the age of twenty, he joined the cast of Saturday Night Live, but was a cast member for only one season. His SNL recurring characters included Jimmy Chance, a hipster movie critic (paired with Nora Dunn's Ashley Ashley) and Rudy Randolph III: Son of Randy Quaid's Rudy Randolph Jr. He did a number of celebrity impersonations, including Elvis Presley, George Michael, John Cougar Mellencamp, Sean Penn, Paul Simon, and John Oates from Hall and Oates (Darryl Hall was played by Anthony Michael Hall).

He went on to star in The Pick-up Artist in 1987. The same year, he portrayed a drug-addicted rich boy in Less Than Zero.[1] In 1992, he starred as Charlie Chaplin in Chaplin, a role which garnered him an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.[1] His other films in the 1990s included Heart and Souls, Only You, Natural Born Killers, and Restoration.

Many consider Downey, Jr. to be a member of the Brat Pack. Although he's not recognized as an official member, Downey starred with Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall, James Spader and Andrew McCarthy in several Brat Pack films.

Career comeback

Downey, Jr. appeared in Elton John's video for the single "I Want Love" in 2001. On November 23, 2004, he released his debut musical album, The Futurist, on Sony Classical, for which he designed the cover art.[1] He was invited to open for Duran Duran in 2005, but declined due to film commitments. He returned to mainstream films in the mid 2000s, with Gothika, for which Joel Silver withheld 40 percent of his salary until after production wrapped, as insurance against his addictive behavior; similar clauses have become standard in his contracts since then.[9] He appeared on Family Guy, voicing Lois Griffin's long lost brother Patrick Pewterschmidt. He had three roles in 2005 and seven roles in 2006. Among them were Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang; Good Night, and Good Luck.; The Shaggy Dog; A Scanner Darkly; Zodiac; and Fur. One of his most recent starring roles is as Principal Gardner in the teen comedy Charlie Bartlett, released in February 2008. He will next star in the film Iron Man as the title character,[10] scheduled for release on May 2, 2008. He will reprise this role in the upcoming film The Incredible Hulk as a part of Marvel Studios' attempt to depict the same Marvel Universe on film.[11]

Downey wears controversial blackface makeup for new film, Tropic Thunder, starring with Ben Stiller and Jack Black. He is "virtually unrecognizable with afro hair and brown skin."[12] Reports of the movie screenings from African-Americans have had positive responses.[13]

Stiller says that he and Downey always stayed focused on the fact that they were skewering insufferable actors, not African-Americans. 'I was trying to push it as far as you can within reality,' Stiller explains. 'I had no idea how people would respond to it.' He recently screened a rough cut of the film and it scored high with African-Americans. He was relieved at the reaction. 'It seems people really embrace it,' he says.

—Entertainment Weekly- First Look: 'Tropic Thunder'

[edit] Personal life

Downey, Jr. dated actress Sarah Jessica Parker in the 1980s, and Marisa Tomei, with whom he appeared together in Only You and Chaplin, in the early 1990s. He married actress Deborah Falconer on May 29, 1992, and has a son named Indio. Downey, Jr. and Falconer divorced on April 26, 2004. On August 27, 2005, he married producer Susan Levin, whom he met on the set of Gothika, in a Jewish ceremony at Amagansett, New York.

Downey, Jr. practices Wing Chun Kung Fu, which he has credited with helping him beat his addiction.

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