Robert John Downey, Jr. is an American actor. Downey made his screen debut in 1970, at the age of five, appearing in his father's film Pound, and has worked consistently in film and television ever since. During the 1980s, he had roles in a series of coming of age films associated with the Brat Pack. His role in Less Than Zero (1987) was the first time Downey's acting would be commended by critics. After Zero, Downey was cast in starring roles in bigger films, such as Air America (1990), Soapdish (1991), and Natural Born Killers (1994). He played Charlie Chaplin in the 1992 film Chaplin, for which he received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.
Between 1996 and 2001, Downey was frequently arrested on drug-related charges. After being released from the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison in 2000, Downey joined the cast of the hit television series Ally McBeal playing the new love interest of Calista Flockhart's title character. His performance was praised and received accolades, but his character was written out when Downey was fired after two drug arrests in late 2000 and early 2001. After one last stay in a court-ordered drug treatment program, Downey finally achieved lasting sobriety and his career began to take off again. He appeared in semi-independent films such as The Singing Detective (2003), Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005), and A Scanner Darkly (2006). He also had supporting roles in the mainstream films Gothika (2003) and Zodiac (2007). In 2004, Downey released his debut studio album The Futurist.
In 2008, Downey was cast as the title character in the comic book adaptation Iron Man. The film was a huge success; the opening weekend for Iron Man is still in the top 20 openings of all time. He reprised the role of Tony Stark in the 2010 sequel, Iron Man 2, and will again in 2012 in The Avengers and in the third film of the planned trilogy, Iron Man 3, due to open in 2013. Downey's other 2008 films included Charlie Bartlett and the Ben Stiller-directed Tropic Thunder. In 2009, Downey starred as the titular lead character in Guy Ritchie's adaptation of Sherlock Holmes, released Christmas 2009. Soon after, Downey won a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy for that portrayal of the famous detective. He reprised his role as Holmes in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows in 2011.