Robert Downey Jr.

Robert Downey Jr.The son of director Robert Downey, Junior made his film debut at the age of five playing a canine in his father's controversial 1960 absurdist satire, Pound. He also appeared in Greaser's Palace under his father's direction in 1972.

Dropping out of school in grade 11, Downey moved to New York where he worked as a shoe salesman and busboy while auditioning for acting roles. He got his break in 1985 when he became a regular cast member on Saturday Night Live, which led to appearances in an amazing number of films during the late 1980s.

Downey won widespread critical acclaim, an Academy Award nomination and the British Academy Award for his personification of Charlie Chaplin in Richard Attenborough's Chaplin.

Recently, Downey's problems with substance abuse have landed him in jail where he was inmate number 5478610 in the Los Angeles County Men's Central Jail. "I've been addicted to drugs in one form or another since I was eight years old"; he told the judge before being sentenced on December 8, 1997. Downey was released from the L.A. County Jail on March 31, 1998 after completing a 180-day sentence for violating probation. He joined the cast of the hit series Allie McBeal in 2000, but was fired after being arrested again when he was found wandering in an alley while under the influence of a controlled substance in 2001. His constant arrests and drug addiction have cost him several acting roles, including a stage performance as Hamlet early in 2001. In 2003, Woody Allen decided not to cast him because of the high cost of completion insurance he would have had to take out for Downey Jr. However, the actor has friends rallying to his side, including Mel Gibson, who cast him as the lead in The Singing Detective (2003).