Robert Downey Jr. is a household name, but his path to success wasn’t always smooth. He was once written off due to his battles with drug addiction and troubles with the law. In a 2003 interview, Downey revealed that his role in the 1987 movie “Less Than Zero” triggered his escalating substance abuse.

The Role that Triggered Robert Downey Jr.’s Addiction

In “Less Than Zero,” Downey plays Julian Wells, a drug addict cut off by his wealthy parents and forced into prostitution by his drug dealer. Downey has said that during the filming of this movie, his drug use became more serious. In a 2003 interview, he reflected on the impact the role had on him:

“Until that movie, I took my drugs after work and on the weekends,” Downey said. “Maybe I’d turn up hungover on the set, but no more so than the stuntman. That changed on Less Than Zero. I was playing this junkie-f****t guy and, for me, the role was like the ghost of Christmas future. The character was an exaggeration of myself. Then things changed and, in some ways, I became an exaggeration of the character. That lasted far longer than it needed to last.”

The Origins of Robert Downey Jr.’s Addiction

Sarah Jessica Parker with then-boyfriend Robert Downey Jr. | Barry King/Sygma/Sygma via Getty Images

Downey’s struggles with addiction began at a young age. According to a 2008 report in The Guardian, his father encouraged him to try marijuana when he was six. Downey himself reflected on the origins of his addiction in a 2003 interview, saying:

“You’d have to go way, way back. But he named Less Than Zero as a turning point.”

From Struggles to Success

Robert Downey Jr. went to rehab several times before his high-profile 1996 arrest, where officers found a handgun, cocaine, and heroin in his car. He was in and out of prison and rehab for the next several years before getting sober in 2003. Since then, he has become one of the highest-paid actors in the world, starring in blockbuster hits like the “Iron Man” series and “Avengers: Endgame.”


What role did Robert Downey Jr. play in “Less Than Zero”?

Robert Downey Jr. played Julian Wells, a drug addict and the best friend of Andrew McCarthy’s character in the movie.

What did Robert Downey Jr. say about his drug use while filming “Less Than Zero”?

Downey said that his drug use became more serious while filming “Less Than Zero.” He described his character in the movie as an “exaggeration” of himself and said that the role was like the “ghost of Christmas future” for him.

When did Robert Downey Jr. get sober?

Downey got sober in 2003 after struggling with addiction and legal troubles for many years.

What other movies has Robert Downey Jr. appeared in?

Robert Downey Jr. has appeared in many movies throughout his career, including the Marvel Cinematic Universe films, “Chaplin,” “Natural Born Killers,” and “Sherlock Holmes.”

What was Robert Downey Jr.’s relationship with the Brat Pack?

Robert Downey Jr. was loosely associated with the Brat Pack, a group of young actors that included Emilio Estevez and Rob Lowe. He appeared in several movies with members of the Brat Pack in the 1980s.

Source: Cheatsheet