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18 Things You Never Knew About Robert Downey Jr., America's Cool Uncle

Updated September 23, 2021 328.6k views18 items

Robert Downey Jr.'s life has been many things - but never boring. The son of a filmmaker and an actress, he's remained in the spotlight since a young age. Robert Downey Jr. facts trace how he went from bit parts in '80s Brat Pack films to acclaimed leading roles in the early '90s. 

From there, Robert Downey Jr. stories take a darker turn. The actor has struggled with a dependency on illicit substances throughout his life, and multiple arrests almost derailed his career entirely. Then, in a twist worthy of his outsized life, he made a comeback. Downey Jr. was cast in a little feature called Iron Man, and suddenly he was back on top.

In true Hollywood fashion, Robert Downey Jr. has plenty of tales to tell, and he's played far more great roles than just Iron Man. From weird trivia about a fast food franchise to a career path that included both comedy and ballet, here are a few fascinating things about an undeniably charming leading man. (And if you're a fan, be sure to check out our Robert Downey Jr. movies list.)

  • He Was A Cast Member On 'SNL'

    When you think of all the greats that started out on Saturday Night Live, you probably don't think of Downey Jr. But he was actually a cast member on the show's 11th season in 1985. The actor was just 20 years old at the time, and he had very little comedic experience.

    He was not asked back for the following season, but his Hollywood career had begun to take off anyway.

  • He Only Made $500K On 'Iron Man'

    When Downey Jr. signed onto the Iron Man franchise, he only made $500,000 for the first film. But thanks to a sweet little contract clause, he made a whopping $10 million for Iron Man 2.

    If that wasn't a nice enough pay bump, he received $50 million for 2012's The Avengers, making him one of the highest-paid film actors of all time.

  • His First Role Was Playing A Puppy

    As a child in 1970, Downey Jr. appeared in his father's film Pound. The movie showed the life of dogs in a city pound, played by human actors. Downey Jr. was a puppy.

  • He Buried His Clothes To Symbolize The Next Phase Of His Career

    After filming 1987's Less Than Zero, Downey Jr. decided he wanted to separate himself from his Brat Pack reputation and move on to more serious acting. So, he took all the clothes he wore during filming and buried them in his yard, as he prepared to unveil his new self in the 1992 film Chaplin.