Robert Downey Jr turns 57 today. One of world’s most popular film stars, Downey Jr’s incredible comeback story itself is dramatic enough to be the subject of a feature film. He is best known for playing the role of Tony Stark or Iron Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
And whatever he does in future, he will probably always be remembered for being Tony by film buffs, so demonstratively he owned the character, almost carving him in his image.
But his path to getting the role was far from easy. The higher-ups at Marvel were apprehensive about his reputation — his drugs and alcohol issues bogged him down, and the company (that now plays in riches thanks to no small part played by him) was adamant to not hire him. Yet, Iron Man director Jon Favreau fought tooth and nail for him to don the suit.
The actor fit into Tony’s shoes so well because he was something of a Tony Stark himself. Their redemption arcs were eerily similar. It was like he was born to play Tony Stark. Downey Jr was what Favreau said “a likable a**hole”, like Tony. In public, the actor similarly cracked jokes and made people laugh, and yet was dealing with a darkness inside him — again like his character.
His Tony persona was in full swing at Disney’s D23 Expo in Anaheim, California in 2019. He revealed to his adoring (and laughing) legions of fans that he was arrested when he visited the Disneyland for the first time. The reason? He was smoking pot while on a gondola.
He said out of the blue, “Here’s a bit of trivia for you. The very first time I went to Disneyland I was transported to another place — within moments of being arrested. I was brought to a surprisingly friendly processing center, given a strict warning, and returned to, if memory serves, one very disappointed group chaperone.”
As the crowd guffawed, he added, “I’ve been sitting on that shame for a while and I‘m just going to release it here tonight. I would like to make amends to whoever had to detain me for smoking pot in a gondola without a license,” before quipping, “And I don’t wanna further confuse the issue by insinuating that pot smoking licenses for the gondola are in any way obtainable.”
Now, it is difficult to ascertain this story and Downey Jr, like Tony, might well be making it up to amuse his fans.