Robert Downey, Jr. is an American actor and musician best known for his film roles as the title character in Chaplin (1992) and as Wayne Gale in Natural Born Killers (1994); as well as his Golden Globe-winning role as Larry Paul in the television series Ally McBeal, appearing in 15 episodes from 2000-2002.
Downey Jr. was born in New York City, New York to Elsie Ford, a dancer and singer, and Robert Downey Sr., a director of underground films. He has a sister, Alison.
Downey, Jr. is Jewish on his father's side, the original family name being "Elias"; he also has Irish ancestry.
During his childhood, he had a minor role playing a puppy in his father's film Pound (1970). At the age of twenty, he joined the cast of Saturday Night Live, but was a cast member for only one season.
He went on to star in The Pick-up Artist in 1987. The same year, he portrayed the drug-addicted rich boy in Less Than Zero.
In 1992, he starred as Charlie Chaplin in Chaplin, a role which garnered him an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. His other films in the 1990s included Heart and Souls, Only You, Natural Born Killers, and Restoration.
After a period of drug addiction during the late 1990s, in 2000 Downey Jr. became a regular on the television series Ally McBeal. He won a Golden Globe award and was also nominated for an Emmy.
He also appeared as a writer and singer on Vonda Shepard's "Ally McBeal: For Once in My Life" album and sang in a duet with Sting on The Police's "Every Breath You Take" hit dating from 1983.
Downey also appeared in Elton John video "I Want Love" in 2001.
On November 23, 2004, he released his debut musical album "The Futurist" on Sony Classical, for which he designed the cover art. He was invited to open for Duran Duran in 2005, but declined due to film commitments.
He returned to film in the mid 2000s, with three roles in 2005 and seven roles in 2006. Among them are the already-released Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, Good Night, and Good Luck., The Shaggy Dog, A Scanner Darkly, and Zodiac as well as the upcoming Fur.
On September 28, 2006, it was announced that Downey would star in the film Iron Man as the title character; the film is scheduled for release on May 2, 2008.
Downey Jr. dated actress Sarah Jessica Parker in the 1980s. He married actress Deborah Falconer on May 29, 1992 and had a son named Indio. They divorced on April 26, 2004.
On August 27, 2005, Downey Jr. married producer Susan Levin, (whom he met on the set of Gothika) in a Jewish ceremony at Amagansett, New York.
Downey practices Wing Chun Kung Fu, which he has credited with helping him beat his addiction.