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Posted at 10:42 AM ET, 08/12/2008

In Praise of Robert Downey Jr.

By Liz Kelly

Robert Downey Jr. and his wife Susan arrive at the premiere of his latest movie, 'Tropic Thunder.' (Getty Images)

A lot has already been said in praise of Robert Downey Jr. He's the ultimate comeback kid, giving hope to fallen stars and recovering addicts the world over. And, although in the picture above he couldn't possibly look more like Wayne Newton, it is nearly impossible to snark at this guy -- who has gone from less than zero to iron man (literally and figuratively) over the course of his 20-some year career.

Though he came of age on film in schlocky teen fare like "Weird Science" and "Tuff Turf" (and we all know "Pretty in Pink's" Duckie Dale was just a cheap RDJ rip-off) it wasn't long before Downey was leaving peers like Anthony Michael Hall behind to take on more challenging roles and garner critical praise. Parts with more heft and less box office punch, like "Restoration" and "Chaplin," marked Downey's emergence as a real actor. Still, as successful as he was on-screen, Downey's off-screen addictions undercut his career gains at every turn (and carried some personal costs, like the loss of long-time girlfriend Sarah Jessica Parker).

Clean now for a little more than five years (thanks Burger King), Downey has made giant-size strides in the past few -- pleasing both critics (in indies like "A Scanner Darkly") and studio execs and fans with his winning turn as "Iron Man" Tony Stark. But despite all the accolades and steady work now coming his way, Downey remains grounded. Following "Iron Man's" mega-success, Downey was quick to dial back what he saw as a budding ego trip:

"Suddenly, for a minute, I felt like everyone needed to take a knee and listen to what I had to say, because I f--kin' made it, and my way works and all this stuff. Then I go home and I go, 'Oh my God, what's happening to me? I gotta get grounded here.'"

I'm not sure how much today's post will help with keeping him grounded, but hey, we like to give credit where due around here. And because it's a slow August day and the biggest thing shaking in the celebrity world is Jake Gyllenhaal's abs, let's pause and take a moment to heap praise and adulation on Robert Downey Jr., man of iron -- and irony.

By Liz Kelly  | August 12, 2008; 10:42 AM ET
Categories:  Celebrities, In Praise Of...  
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Comments

I love the quote. I love it because it sounds scripted, like some sharp-witted screenwriter crafted it, but it's just something he threw out there.

Posted by: 23112 | August 12, 2008 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Burger King turned me around, too.

Now I'm fat.

Posted by: Curmudgeon is proud of Robert Downey Jr | August 12, 2008 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Wow. I must have done something right to earn this post.

Thank you, Liz!

Although I must say, I always thought Duckie was a rip-off of Matthew Broderick. But I'm a fairly young'un- so this could turn out to be quite enlightening.

Posted by: Sully is gleeful | August 12, 2008 12:08 PM | Report abuse

RD Jr. is great and all that, but where is Gene today?

Last week he said he'd be back this week, but you said, "See you next month." What gives?

Posted by: Wonderin' | August 12, 2008 12:36 PM | Report abuse

i must say that i was expecting more in that picture of jake. he's got some waxing and shaving to do in my opinion.

Posted by: courtney | August 12, 2008 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Pretty in Pink release date
28 February 1986

Ferris Bueller's Day Off release date
11 June 1986

And anyway, Hughes made them both.

Posted by: (but had nothing to do with War Games) | August 12, 2008 12:48 PM | Report abuse

RDJ had a small part in Charlie Barlett as a school principal battling alcoholism. He was pretty good. I thought it was a good way to bring his experiences to his character.

Posted by: M Street | August 12, 2008 12:49 PM | Report abuse

IMHO Jakey-poo has more chest hair GROWING to do.

RDJ...gotta love him. As I type I have 2 of his "crazy-coke-eyes" mugshots in my cube. Everyone asks why & my answer is "Well, he's hot & 2)there but for the grace....we're all one drink away from THAT!"

I'm also diggin' his porn-stache in the pic above. Very Earl-esque.

Posted by: Bored @ work | August 12, 2008 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Whoo! I'm a late convert to RDJ, but he's winning me over pretty fast. He had a great interview last night with Craig Ferguson which was basically the two of them baking fresh funny for fifteen minutes straight. Good times.

Posted by: Bawlmer | August 12, 2008 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Liz, for a post dedicated to Robert Downey Jr., whom I have a mad crush on. Tropic Thunder is already taking some heat from the disability community for Ben Stiller's character and crude references toward mental disabilities. Me, however, I'm just going because Downey's in it, and any scene he's in, is gooood.

Favorite Downey roles:
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
Restoration
Soapdish

Looking forward to Sherlock Holmes and future Iron Man installments.

Glad his career is on an upswing and that he's doing so well, personally and professionally.

Posted by: NW DC | August 12, 2008 12:58 PM | Report abuse

I missed RDJ on Craig Ferguson? Gosh darn it! Why or why did I have to go to sleep at 11:50 p.m.? Oh, I know why. My job. I need to show up every morning to keep getting that salary deposited into my checking account.

Loved Iron Man, though I must admit that I am not addicted to RDJ or anything.

And, anybody object if I add Javier Bardem to my kitchen pass list? He's yummy.

Posted by: B'More Cat and Craig Ferguson Lover | August 12, 2008 1:15 PM | Report abuse

"take a knee"? I just flashed back to pre-game team meetings in high school, with the mannish coach saying "Awright girls, let's take a knee and um... (remembering we're not allowed to pray in school) think about playing real good today." Every single game. It's the only other time I've heard the expression.

Posted by: WDC | August 12, 2008 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Robert Downey Jr made Ally McBeal worth watching. He deserved an Emmy for managing to squeeze real pathos out of that stupid dialogue.

Posted by: MoCoSnarky | August 12, 2008 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Pretty in Pink release date
28 February 1986

Ferris Bueller's Day Off release date
11 June 1986

And anyway, Hughes made them both.

Posted by: (but had nothing to do with War Games) | August 12, 2008 12:48 PM

Yeah, I saw that! I was a wee child when both movies came out, so I'd never thought to check when they were released before. I was shocked- SHOCKED, I tell you. All of my previous, age-old assumptions went out the window. Hmm...what else could I be wrong about?

What I do know is that Duckie's lip-synching to Otis is one of my favorite movie scenes to date.

Posted by: Sully says all you got to do is squeeze her, tease her, never leave her | August 12, 2008 1:46 PM | Report abuse

"And, although in the picture above he couldn't possibly look more like Wayne Newton"

Are you sure he couldn't possibly look more like Tony Orlando?

http://paulawhyman.sb2.authorsguild.net/files/paulawhyman.sb2.authorsguild.net/images/Tony-orlando--d.jpg

Posted by: PQ | August 12, 2008 1:48 PM | Report abuse

B'More Cat and Craig Ferguson Lover:
Give it a few days; I'm sure the interview will show up on the Internets somewhere.
And yeah, I'm kind of regretting staying up that late last night. Time to hit the coffee machine again.

Posted by: Bawlmer | August 12, 2008 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Wow, check out Botox Boy. I bet you could bounce a quarter off that forehead. RDJr.'s an OK actor, but let's not get carried away with the tributes.

And don't diss Anthony Michael Hall; he's pretty good on "The Dead Zone."

Posted by: td | August 12, 2008 2:24 PM | Report abuse

I love Duckie. Claire made a huge mistake.

Even RDJ couldn't make Less Than Zero watchable, but he came damn close.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 12, 2008 3:24 PM | Report abuse

"Even RDJ couldn't make Less Than Zero watchable, but he came damn close."

True. The movie was such a watered-down version of the book as it was, never mind the casting of (UGH) Andrew McCarthy in the lead role.

I forgot about Robert Downey, Jr. in "Soapdish." What a hilarious movie. All I need is a quick fix of Cathy Moriarty chasing RDJr. yelling "David!" and I'm happy for the next hour. A modern classic. Never saw it? Rent it now.

Posted by: td does not have kopfgeschlagen | August 12, 2008 3:33 PM | Report abuse

She's a boy!

Posted by: Anonymous | August 12, 2008 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: td does not have kopfgeschlagen | August 12, 2008 3:33 PM

Brain fever?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 12, 2008 3:48 PM | Report abuse

"She's a boy!" --Anonymous | August 12, 2008 3:47 PM

HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!

Posted by: td is grateful for the late-afternoon laugh | August 12, 2008 3:52 PM | Report abuse

The empty half of the glass is always at the top.
Speed Limit

Posted by: Speed Limit | August 12, 2008 10:44 PM | Report abuse

Even challege Washington Post articles?
Wow! I admire you.
Speed Limit

"The empty half of the glass is always at the top"

Posted by: Speed Limit | August 12, 2008 11:27 PM | Report abuse

LIZ, PLEASE REMOVE SPAM MESSAGES AT 10:44 & 11:27 PM.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 13, 2008 12:15 AM | Report abuse

Although I must say, I always thought Duckie was a rip-off of Matthew Broderick. But I'm a fairly young'un- so this could turn out to be quite enlightening.

Posted by: Sully is gleeful | August 12, 2008 12:08 PM
******************
Pretty in Pink release date
28 February 1986

Ferris Bueller's Day Off release date
11 June 1986

And anyway, Hughes made them both.

Posted by: (but had nothing to do with War Games) | August 12, 2008 12:48 PM
******************

Actually Matthew Broderick's style was already established in earlier films ("Max Dugan Returns" 1983), by which it is understandable to see Duckie as a poor man's Matt Broderick...I know I had the same reaction as Sully at the time.

Posted by: expatasia | August 13, 2008 7:42 AM | Report abuse

curmudgeon,

You must be eating the wrong stuff at Burger King. I eat there at least 3 times a week and I am 5'10" and 165 pounds. I am guy by the way with a 30" waste and at the age of 46 can still run 3 miles in under 20 minutes. Plus, my cholesterol is under 180 and my blood pressure averages 110 over 68.

Posted by: Burger King not bad | August 13, 2008 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Soooooo nobody wants to acknowledge the fact that our beloved Robert Downey Jr is playing a BLACK MAN in BLACK FACE in his new movie??

Huh?

Am I the ONLY one that sees something wrong with that??

Posted by: bean sprout | August 13, 2008 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Bean sprout

Did you see the movie? In context RDJ is spot on, black face and all! Nothing wrong with it at all, it is hilarious.

And yes, I'm black.

Posted by: anon | August 14, 2008 8:59 AM | Report abuse

"Bean sprout

Did you see the movie? In context RDJ is spot on, black face and all! Nothing wrong with it at all, it is hilarious.

And yes, I'm black.

Posted by: anon | August 14, 2008 8:59 AM"

Of course it was hilarious! It is for entertainment purposes! Just like blackface was used for entertainment many years ago. Am I surprised? Not at all. I'm glad you enjoyed the movie...I'm sure the majority of America will also. I'm not militant, but I DO understand that there has to be a certain amount of tact and sensitivity when dealing when a subject as touchy as this. Black face was demeaning...is demeaning. I'm feel sorry for you; you are a black person in America who can't see why that is. I wish I were ignorant...then I wouldn't care so much.

Posted by: bean sprout | August 14, 2008 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Bean sprout, you've got your facts wrong. That's why actually seeing the movie is a good idea.

RDJ is *not* playing a black man. He's playing a white Aussie actor with a monstrously swollen ego who thinks he can authentically play a black character.

And yes, it's funny.

Posted by: Acappella | August 15, 2008 8:59 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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