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Like the Phoenix, Robert Downey Jr. has risen again

By APRILL BRANDON
May 5, 2010 at 12:05 a.m.
Updated May 6, 2010 at 12:06 a.m.

Robert Downey Jr. plays Tony Stark in "Iron Man 2."

It wasn't too long ago that Hollywood, and pretty much the rest of the world, had given up on Robert Downey Jr. After winning critical acclaim in movies such as "Less Than Zero" and "Chaplin," Downey began a downward spiral that took him from being one of the most promising up-and-coming actors, to an A-list has-been junkie.

But just like the mythical Phoenix, the actor has risen from the ashes of his drug-addled past and taken his rightful place at the top of the Hollywood box office, thanks to his role as Tony Stark in "Iron Man."

Downey's acting career began in the 1980s with roles in movies such as "Weird Science," "Back to School" and "The Pick-Up Artist," as well as a season on "Saturday Night Live," according to the Internet Movie Database.

By 1992, he starred in "Chaplin" which garnered him an Oscar nomination. More movie roles followed, but by the mid-1990s, his drug use started to catch up with him.

In 1996, he was remanded to a secure drug rehabilitation center and for the next several of years, he was in and out of jail, rehab and courtrooms, according to the Internet Movie Database. One of his lowest points was when he was arrested after wandering into a neighbor's Malibu home and found asleep on the bed, where he was arrested for being under influence of drugs, his third violation of his probation.

Uninsurable on film sets, Downey had trouble securing roles and was fired from the television show "Ally McBeal" in 2001 after yet another drug-related arrest.

Then in 2003, Downey began his comeback with the film "The Singing Detective," in which his former cast mate and friend Mel Gibson footed the insurance bill, according to the website. Solid roles slowly began trickling in with movies such as "Good Night, and Good Luck" and "Charlie Bartlett," until he secured 2008's "Iron Man."

Just as quickly as he had fallen, Downey was on the way up again. He followed up "Iron Man" with "Tropic Thunder," which earned him an Oscar nomination, "The Soloist" and "Sherlock Holmes" in 2009 and most recently "Iron Man 2." In the works is a "Sherlock Holmes" sequel, "The Avengers," "Iron Man 3" and "Oz: The Great and Powerful," according to the website.

Just like how becoming Iron Man gave Tony Stark a new purpose in life, so did it for Downey.

And the world can't wait to see what he does next.

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