Robert Downey Jr. and Sr. Talk About Substance Abuse in Newest Documentary Chronicling the Life of the Late Filmmaking Legend

There are a lot of ways a son can pay tribute to his father upon his passing, but Robert Downey Jr. just topped whatever I had in mind. The famed actor, along with his wife Susan Downey, produced a documentary titled Sr. that stars both Robert Downey Jr. and Sr. as they chronicle his life and career. 

The documentary talks a lot about one of the things they share in common – their history with drugs and other harmful substances. The father-son duo are candid about their past and even talk about the ‘idiot move’ by Downey Sr. to let his son smoke marijuana at the age of six because he thought it was cute.

Robert Downey Jr. and Sr. Talk About Substance Abuse in Newest Documentary Chronicling the Life of the Late Filmmaking Legend
 Ga Fullner /

Robert Downey Sr. passed away in his sleep on July 7, 2021, at the age of 85, ending a five-year battle with Parkinson’s disease. Robert Downey Jr. has been open about his father’s passing in the past, but the documentary allows him an opportunity to explore things he doesn’t normally explore with his father. 

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In the documentary, Robert Downey Sr. admits to being addicted to cocaine for 15 years and also admits to allowing his son to smoke marijuana, as mentioned above. “I think we would be remiss not to discuss its effect on me,” Downey Jr. said to his father. “Boy, I would sure love to miss that discussion,” Sr. replied.

“A lot of us did things and thought it would be hypocritical to not have our kids participate in marijuana and stuff like that. So we thought it was cute to let them smoke. It was an idiot move on our parts, a lot of us, to share that with our children,” explained Downey Sr., adding he’s just happy his son is still here. 

Downey Jr.’s early introduction to marijuana resulted in a long struggle with substance abuse that nearly ended his career at the turn of the century. In 1996, he was arrested with heroin, cocaine, crack, and a gun in his vehicle after being stopped for a speeding ticket. It was the beginning of a downward spiral. 

Later that year, he was arrested again after he passed out in his neighbor’s 11-year-old son’s bed. He went to jail on several occasions and escaped rehab on two occasions, but eventually decided to get sober once and for all. Robert Downey Jr. will be celebrating 20 years of sobriety in summer 2023. 

Robert Downey Jr. Continues to Add to His Legacy

While Robert Downey Jr. enjoyed quite a bit of success in his early years, the late-1990s and early 2000’s did a number on his career. That all changed in 2003, when he decided to become sober. Since then, he has enjoyed one of the most incredible and unlikely comeback stories Hollywood has ever witnessed. 

His career completely took off when he began portraying Iron Man in the Marvel Universe, but that’s not to overshadow his roles in The Soloist, Sherlock Holmes, and even his controversial role in Tropic Thunder. And if you think he’s anywhere close to being done, think again – he has a lot more in store.

For example, Robert Downey Jr. is starring in a new biographical film titled Oppenheimer, which is set to be released in July 2023. He also has a small role in All-Star Weekend, which doesn’t have a release date and is currently in post-production. He has much more in the works, of course. 

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Another project fans can look forward to is The Sympathizer, which is a TV adaptation of Viet Thanh Nguyen’s book by the same name. Not only will Robert Downey Jr. co-star in the series, but he’s an executive producer as well. The series will debut on HBO, but a release date is unknown.

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