Robert Downey Jr. is successful, grounded, sober, happily married, and a real drag, says one of his former directors.
In an interview with HuffPost Live, director James Toback, who made three films with Downey Jr. between 1987 and 1999, said that 48-year-old actor’s stellar career comeback and new-found sobriety are not what they seem, and indeed, Downey Jr. is not the same man he used to be.
Toback bemoaned that Downey Jr. is “not the same person anymore,” implied that his wife (producer Susan Downey) runs his life with an iron fist, and seemed nostalgic for the days when Downey was in-and-out of jail, constantly battling substance abuse.
“He’s clearly under some influence which has flattened him out,” Toback said. “He’s not, apparently, doing any drugs. He’s not going up and down. He’s on an even keel, and he’s become the most successful robotic cartoon character in movie history.”
“He’s a one-man brand franchise. I think it requires him to be a person who doesn’t resemble the person he used to be. That was a conscious decision. I was one of the three people who toasted him at his wedding, and I could feel the beginning of it there. I got a sense of the wife, and the kind of control she was going to take over his life. The fact that he was ready to surrender his life to somebody and to AA or whatever.”
Robert Downey Jr. married Susan in 2005, and together they run “Team Downey,” a production company that develops projects for the actor. But it’s not as much a team as it appears to be, Toback said.
“She runs him,” Toback said. He also regrets that the Robert Downey Jr. he once directed is long gone, and that he’ll never get to work with him again.
“That Downey is either dead or in the parking lot under three layers of concrete and cars. That Downey, which I found fascinating and addictive and alluring, was not financially feasible and not pharmacologically feasible. Now he’s got a financially feasible and pharmacologically feasible life, in which he’s doing nothing but heading toward the billion. It used to be, ‘I’m a millionaire.’ Then it was $20 million, then it was $100 million, then it was a billion. From what I gather, he’ll be there in a couple of years.”
This isn’t the first time Toback has made dismissive comments about Robert Downey Jr., and though the actor has not responded to his former director’s harsh criticisms, he offered a slightly different… and more sober… explanation for what “happened” to him in his personal life and career in a recent interview.
Per GQ‘s Chris Heath:
“I ask Downey what was the key thing that finally enabled him to move away from where he was and how he used to be. He suggests that any answer he gives today might be different from an answer yesterday or tomorrow. ‘What would I say?’ he considers. ‘I fell in love?’ He offers this in a way that seems to say: That’s certainly true, but if you imagine that any one answer can fill the gap that follows a question like that, then you don’t really have a clue what it is that you’re asking about.” ‘Any of my answers,’ he adds, ‘always have to do with: I stopped worrying about fixing things and just dealt with what was right in front of me. The bouncing ball of the moment.’ “
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