I’m not afraid to admit when I’m wrong. I’d like to say that’s because it hardly ever happens, but the truth is, I’ve just had lots of practice and I’ve built up an immunity to the whole process. And today, kids, I am here to say that I made a mistake, and I’m gonna rectify it.
See, our guest of the day was one of those rare people who was blessed with it all — looks, family connections, wealth, and a whole wagonload of talent. He first caught my attention in 1992, when he was simply amazing in the title role in CHAPLIN, deservedly nominated for an Oscar.
But he seemed determined to throw it all away, spiraling down and out in a haze of drug charges, ill-fated attempts at rehab, and roles that were frankly unworthy of his talent when not impaired. He couldn’t even hold onto a supporting role in one of my least-favorite TV shows of all-time, ALLY MCBEAL. He was case as a love interest for Calista Flockhart (a truly weird-looking stick insect, BTW), but after getting two drug arrests in short order, the character was written out. I counted Mr. Downey as a lost cause. He once had potential, but he was not worth watching anymore.
But lately, my DDs have been on an Iron Man and Sherlock Holmes kick, and I’ve watched the new, reinvented and sober Mr. Downey with surprise. All the wit, charm, and acting skills that were so evident in Chaplin are back in full force. But this time Mr. Downey has more mature air, that of a man who has taken his falls, learned his lesson, and come back with new wisdom and insight. And kids, if that ain’t sexy, I don’t know what is!
I understand that Mr. Downey gives the credit for his recovery and return to the top of Hollywood’s A-list to his wife, Susan Downey. Kind of cute story — they met on the set of Gothika, where she worked with the producer. She turned him down, not once but twice, before agreeing to go out with him, as “he’s an actor; I have a real job.” But he ended up proposing to her the night before her 30th birthday, and they’ve been together ever since.
I have a friend (yes, I really do!) who has written a book which Mr. Downey has optioned for a movie, and he reports that, having had dinner with Robert and Susan, they are just as real and down-to-earth as one could hope for. They were especially excited when my friend met them, as they had just found out that they are having their first child (a boy, due in February.)
So, I humbly eat my serving of crow. I was completely mistaken about Robert Downey, Jr.
I mean, after all, isn’t “the wealthy rake from a good family who tries to throw his life away in dissipation and wild living til he is redeemed by the love of a good woman (who is not in her first blush of youth), then lives happily ever after surrounded by family” just about the most beloved trope of romance? Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the modern day version of the quintessential Regency hero and heroine: Mr. and Mrs. Robert Downey, Jr.!