Robert Downey Jr. will forever be etched into the minds of his fans as their favorite Avenger who sacrificed himself to save the world. While Tony Stark’s life story was worth writing a book about, Robert Downey Jr.’s real life doesn’t fall behind, either, especially given the fact that his father was an underground filmmaking connoisseur.
So when director Chris Smith decided to put Robert Downey Sr.’s life story in a documentary, little did he know the project would turn into telling the story of two generations. The documentary, titled Sr. streaming on Netflix, put the father-son bond on full display. Now, Robert Downey Jr. opened up about a point in the documentary where the father-son duo addressed their substance issues.
Robert Downey Jr. Talks about People Belittling Addiction
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Talking to Deadline, Robert Downey Jr. opened up about his and his late father’s substance addiction. He stated that while drug culture continues on finding “new ways to kill”, it is still considered something which has to be kept under hushed tones. He called drug addiction a brain disease saying that while his father beat it he, unfortunately, succumbed to another brain disease, referring to Parkinson’s.
Downey continued to say that back in the 80s and 90s, all interviewers seemed to want to know was if the artist was on drugs or not. He called this out saying that there could’ve been so many more interesting talks with these great artists if the interviewers looked beyond the trending topic.
“Like in the ’80s and ’90s, you know, I can’t tell you how many artists I admire who there could have been so many interesting interviews with them, but all [interviewers] ever wanted to know was, you know, “Were you really on acid and cracked out when you blah, blah, blah?” Oh Christ! It almost became a reason to not have to have more interesting conversations.”
The Sherlock Holmes actor talked about the uncomfortable feeling when it comes to talking about failing to deal with alcoholism or drug addiction. He added that even today it’s considered a weakness. On top of society belittling the person, he also talked about the guilt one feels on his own, owing to the situation.
“I still think there’s this section of our culture that thinks it’s a moral weakness. And also, you feel bad about all the crazy s**t, so then there’s the guilt button.”
Downey stated that he wasn’t sure if his father ever made peace with the fact that he lost all these years to addiction. His father, Robert Downey Sr, lost his life to a battle with Parkinson’s disease in July 2021, at the age of 85. The documentary also shows his well-put-up fight with the disease.
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How Sr. Highlights the Duo’s Addiction
While the documentary showed the relationship between Jr. and Sr. as they so affectionately called each other in the documentary, it also shines a light on difficult conversations, including one about their drug abuse years. While both of them have incredible careers to their name, they have something else in common, as well. Both of them had a period in their lives where they were the victims of drug and alcohol abuse.
In the documentary, Downey Sr. talked about his years being a drug addict recalling the time in his 70s when his son was still a child. In a different interview, Downey Jr. admitted that he knew what was going on in his father’s life at that moment. In a scene from the documentary, Downey Jr. talked about altering consciousness.
“We were all altering our consciousness with substances. I was just playing a game of wanting to self-soothe, or stay loaded, rather than deal with the fact that things had gone off the tracks. Honestly, more than anything, I look back and go. ‘It’s shocking that a single movie came out finished.’ But that didn’t stop we Downeys.”
Despite his father playing a part in pushing him down the road, he holds absolutely no resentment toward him. In fact, Downey Jr. stated that his dad was one of the primary reasons why he became clean, eventually. He recalled that even though it took him about twenty years to become completely clean, his father and stepmother, Laura Ernst were two forces who made it possible in the first place. Downey Sr. himself started his journey to a life without substances after his marriage to Ernst in 1991 and continued the path even after she passed away in 1994.
Sr. is available to stream on Netflix.