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“I got my black belt 5 years ago”: Robert Downey Jr. Thanks Bruce Lee For Helping Him Kick Addiction, Made Him Do Iron Man Stunts at 43

“I got my black belt 5 years ago”: Robert Downey Jr. Thanks Bruce Lee For Helping Him Kick Addiction, Made Him Do Iron Man Stunts at 43

Robert Downey Jr. is known for many things, but most of all, for Iron Man and his crippling addiction before it. For the talented actor, his brilliance did shine bright however for a while before RDJ succumbed to substance abuse. The latter eventually paved his path to prison. The journey defining his recovery and later fame was guided by the impact of the two significant aspects of his life onto each other, and the Marvel godfather recently spoke as to how he is grateful to Bruce Lee for helping him realize his way out of addiction.

Iron Man
Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man

Also read: “He knew he had to play the politics”: Robert Downey Jr. Admits Marvel Did Not Want Him to Play Iron Man, Credits His Good Friend Jon Favreau For His Success

Robert Downey Jr. Finds a Way Out of Addiction in Martial Arts

Bruce Lee inspired millions of people during his lifetime and millions more after his death. The Chinese-American actor and martial artist was not only the best in the said field but influential enough to move the world into learning mixed martial arts and incorporating it into one’s lifestyle. And one of those people happens to be Robert Downey Jr. who went on to not only accept the art form into curating a disciplined life but use it to beat addiction.

RDJ credits Wing Chun with his sobriety
RDJ credits Wing Chun with his sobriety

Also read: Bruce Lee Biopic Set to be Made with Life of Pi Director Ang Lee at the Helm

The Iron Man actor was sentenced to almost a year and a half of time in prison between 1996 and 2001 due to his unchecked substance abuse. The actor’s sobriety began in 2003 and he has refrained from drug use to date. And a major part of his journey toward healing is accredited to Bruce Lee. According to Robert Downey Jr., he eventually invested enough focus and control in practicing Wing Chun, a martial art form popularized by the Fist of Fury actor and martial arts expert, to win control over his substance addiction.

RDJ Speaks About Wing Chun & Its Influence on His Life

During an episode of The Joe Rogan Experience, Robert Downey Jr. claimed that Wing Chun has been a dominating aspect of his life and that he has been practicing it for years, crediting the martial art form for keeping him disciplined enough to not lose his streak of sobriety.

“It absolutely coincided with my recovery, and the two things just somehow or other seem to lock in. … As far as it locked in with this, it was an apprentice — an apprenticeship. And it was an apprenticeship that was contingent on me being in a certain headspace.” 

RDJ displays Wing Chun in Sherlock Holmes (2010)
RDJ displays Wing Chun in Sherlock Holmes (2010)

Also read: “Work it, King”: Hollywood Acknowledges Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man as a Cinematic Masterpiece, Movie Officially Added To National Film Registry

And not only has the art form helped him succeed in finding a sense of comfort and self-assurance to finally free himself from the clutches of being under the influence but provided him with enough composure to regain control of his artistic self once again.

“I got my a** kicked by a wooden dummy for about three years, and then I finally understood the principle of ‘Don’t fight force with force.’ And you know, it’s just nuts. So anyway, half the time if I would be in a critical artistic situation I would just say — because Wing Chun problems are life problems, life problems are Wing Chun problems — and I would just go back to ‘How did this kind of relate to …’”

The LA Wing Chun Academy instructor, Eric Oram, who has been the personal trainer of the actor for years states that Wing Chun helped RDJ in his work on the sets of his films and that most of the stunts performed on camera are the actor’s own work.

Source: The Joe Rogan Experience

Written by Diya Majumdar

At 25, Diya Majumdar is inching closer to getting to the bottom of every film and television's history in existence. Having graduated with honors in literature from Miranda House, DU, her passion and profession both include dissecting the world of cinema, with more than 800 published articles on Fandomwire. She is a liberally opinionated person with an overbearing love for Monet, Edvard Munch, and Van Gogh and boasts of being an avid painter of all their troubled works.