Robert Downey, Jr. Superstar

Posted by: Ron Grover on December 28, 2009


It suddenly occurred to me today – after my wife and I were forced to head back to the theater twice in the same weekend to catch Sherlock Holmes — that Robert Downey, Jr. has suddenly become the hottest actor on the planet. That’s right, Robert Downey, Jr., who six years back had to drop out the Woody Allen film Melinda and Melinda because the costs to insure him were too high after several well-publicized arrests and a trip to the drug rehab clinic.

But Robert Downey, Jr seems able to do no wrong these days at the box office. As I found when I couldn’t get into his flick on Saturday, he has his third mega-hit on his hands with Sherlock Holmes, which opened second this weekend to Avatar but still clocked a steep $65.4 million.

The flick is certain to pass $100 million, which would give the 45-year old Downey roles in three $100 million performances in the last two years – his breakout starring role as Tony Stark in Iron Man, which grossed $318 million in the US and $585 million worldwide, and the comedy Tropic Thunder, for which he was nominated for an Oscar for his hilarious turn as an Australian method actor who undergoes surgery to play an African-American. (Oh, and the film also grossed more than $110 million in the U.S.)

So, why is Robert Downey, Jr. so hot? Well, the camera clearly loves him these days. He mugs, smirks and plays the smart aleck with such style that he can pull of the role of a snarky corporate exec in Iron Man or the equally smarmy Sherlock Holmes. But chalk one up for Hollywood. For once they’ve got it right, casting a bad boy gone straight in the role of – well – a bad boy who has more or less gone straight.

So, surround Downey’s bad boy acting with enough pyrotechnics —- Iron Man taking out Arab terrorists with his pulse beams or Sherlock Holmes escaping a fiery warehouse – and you’ve got a special effects-fueled superstar. It’s worked before: Tom Cruise in the Mission Impossible series, or Christian Bale in the Batman movies. Add in that Downey comes cheap these days – he got a “mere” $6 million for starring in Iron Man – and he’s the kind of superstar Hollywood loves these days as well.

Now, will he stay cheap? Uh, no. The crowd with whom I saw Sherlock Holmes roared when the trailer for Iron Man 2 came on the screen before the main attraction. And Downey was at his smirking best on screen when he faced down a congressional inquiry in his role as the defiant Tony Stark. The crowd ate him up. And they’ll do the same this May, when Iron Man 2 opens.

Reader Comments

michel

December 28, 2009 1:59 PM

He deserves it, he is a great actor and always has been no matter what was going on in his personal life. Chaplin,Down From Zero, even in Weird Science he stole the show..Congrats I am fan and will be for years

Kathleen

December 28, 2009 2:39 PM

I'm going to guess the author of this is not familiar with Downey's full body of work. Downey has always, always been a brilliant actor and has been recognized as one for years by critics and fans alike. His ongoing battle against his demons is no secret yet it did sideline his career for a bit. Interesting points made here but nothing new to those who have been watching him off and on for years. I hope he can manage to keep clean as his talent is far too great to be lost yet again -- even if only temporarily.

Leesa

December 28, 2009 4:08 PM

He has always been my favorite even through all his issues. He's had real problems and he's not perfect. Thats why he's so great. If he hadn't gone through his tough times he wouldn't be who he is. God bless him.

Sonya W.

December 28, 2009 4:11 PM

I watched "Less Than Zero" on Christmas as my own twisted holiday movie. I have adored Downey since this movie and I have rooted for him to conquer his demons. Another wonderful, under appreciated film of his is True Believer with James Woods and Margaret Colin.

He deserves all the success in the world and I'm very happy for him.

sylvia m

December 31, 2009 2:08 PM

I've been a fan of his since "Restoration"
He is a great actor & gorgeous.

He should be getting 20 million per picture.

Shari

January 1, 2010 12:19 PM

I too, have loved Robert Downey Jr since his early days . . . call me crazy but I loved him in The Pick-Up Artist. I think Kathleen hit the nail on the head. He is a tremendous actor, always puts himself out there. We have all messed up. "The character of a person is not about the their fall, but how one picks oneself back up!" He is a true character . . . Love You RDJ! and you DO deserve 20 million per picture!

superon

January 2, 2010 5:01 AM

Sherlock Holmes, American accent? Oh dear, Oh dear, Oh dear!

John Speer

January 2, 2010 9:46 PM

As a box-office draw, Robert Downey Jr. HAS LEGS! Good taste in movie roles, excellent, believable performances. Strong, sometimes quirky, but approachable and very likable. Shade of Johnny Depp's rise to box office command. Definitely deserves a raise. I'd finance him.

kari

March 1, 2010 4:27 PM

robert downey jr. is so awesome that i'm writing a paper about him for english class. and michel, try less than zero.

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