No actor in recent memory has alchemized his or her career into a second act as successfully as Robert Downey Jr., who turns 50 years old today. From breaking into his neighbors’ house while under the influence of heroin, to doing time in prison, to being uninsurable in movies, to now raking in $75 million a year (making him the highest-paid goddamn actor in the world), he epitomizes how someone can shake off their demons and become a real-life superhero. With RDJ’s dark period, both in his personal life and in film (his portrayal of drug-addled Julian in Less Than Zero was a harbinger of things to come), you wouldn’t know he got his start in comedy. In 1985, RDJ starred with Anthony Michael Hall in Weird Science, and after their ill-fated 1985-1986 season stint on SNL, they went on to star in two more comedies together, including Hall’s directorial debut, Hail Caesar. (I wonder: Do they still hang out?) Downey’s a leading man, but he’s actually at his funniest in ensemble casts such as Ally McBeal, Soapdish, Home for the Holidays, and The Avengers. But before he was Tony Stark/Iron Man, and before he went blackface in his Oscar-nominated role in Tropic Thunder, some of Downey’s films were hits but most weren’t mega-bucks makers. Still, his brand of voluble humor is what put him on the radar in the first place. In honor of his big birthday, here are some of RDJ’s most humorous roles from his pre-blockbuster canon.
12. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)
Before he directed and co-wrote Iron Man 3, Shane Black directed RDJ in a darkly humorous buddy crime action film, co-starring Val Kilmer. As a criminal pretending to be an actor, Harry (RDJ) finds himself trying to get rid of a corpse with a detective (Kilmer), and does inane (and funny) things like peeing on the corpse, and he makes out with Kilmer. Demonstrating how much Downey’s star power had risen from 2005 to 2013, Kiss Kiss only grossed $15 million compared with Iron Man 3, which grossed over a billion worldwide. Read More: [Continue]
The musical biopic: a genre populated by performances from the Oscar-winning to the execrable, taking us into the fascinating pasts of our favourite stars, with a healthy selection of classic tunes and vivid recreations
THE DOORS (1991)
OK, so Kyle MacLachlan made a risible Ray Manzarek and there was no need for the Billy Idol cameo but Oliver Stone’s film of the eponymous American rock band was often fun for the right reasons – especially if you’d read Doors biographies such as Jerry Hopkins and Daniel Sugerman’s No One Here Gets Out Alive, anecdotes from which came to colourful life on screen. The film’s star, of course, was Val Kilmer, as the pretentious but charismatic front Door, Jim Morrison; indeed, the actor often did a better job than the late singer with his vocals. Fans of TV comedy Entourage, meanwhile, will get a kick out of seeing Kevin “Johnny Drama” Dillon grumpily playing Doors drummer John Densmore. Read More: [Continue]
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