Robert Downey Jr has had a long and storied journey to where he is today. The “Iron Man” star, who is currently enjoying the success of his latest film, “Oppenheimer” has been to the top, down to the bottom, and back on top again. His struggles with addiction are well documented, and there were times when it looked like the actor would disappear from the industry and public consciousness.
Downey Jr’s acting skills have never been in question. As one of the most gifted of his generation, he used his range and natural charm to land roles and make memorable turns in such films as Sherlock Holmes, Due Date, Chaplin as the titular Charlie Chaplin, and an unforgettable turn as Kirk Lazarus in Tropic Thunder, a film where Downey donned blackface for the entire movie and actually didn’t get canceled.
However, maybe the most important movie of Downey’s career was a film with Mel Gibson called “Air America.” Downey had been through a string of rehab stints and arrests for substance abuse, and Hollywood had effectively turned its back on the actor. He credits Gibson for giving him another chance to rescue his life and career.
Downey Jr said of Gibson: “When I couldn’t get sober, he told me to not give up hope and urged me to find my faith. It didn’t have to be his or anyone else’s as long as it was rooted in forgiveness. He cast me for the lead of a movie that was actually developed for him, and he kept a roof over my head and he kept food on the table.”
That stability and mentorship ultimately set the “Doolittle” actor back on the path to sobriety and success. Since very often, when you do good, good things come back to you, Robert Downey Jr was there for Mel Gibson when he needed him as well.
In 2010, Gibson was accused and admitted to slapping the mother of his child, Oksana Grigorieva, to, as he claimed, snap her out of a fit of hysterics. She secured a restraining order, and a courtroom drama unfolded. Since Hollywood is an industry that will quickly wash its already dirty hands of anyone they deem unfit to represent the brand, Gibson’s career went cold.
It was at that point Downey Jr stepped up in defense of his old friend and mentor. Downey Jr said: “I humbly ask that you join me, unless you are completely without sin, in which case, you’ve picked the wrong f*cking industry…in forgiving my friend his trespasses and offering him the same clean slate you gave me and allowing him to continue his great and ongoing contribution to our collective art without shame.”
The backing of a Hollywood heavyweight like Robert Downey Jr seemed to work, and Gibson once again is busy acting and producing, with five projects currently in the pipeline and a rumored sequel to his epic “Passion of the Christ” in the works.
The loyalty Robert Downey Jr showed his friend and mentor is rare these days and even rarer in a cutthroat place like Hollywood. It stands as a reminder that everyone deserves a second chance, even in Hollywood.
Featured image screen grab from embedded YouTube video
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