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Monday, 22 January, 2001, 13:29 GMT
Downey Jr's Golden acting career
Downey Jr arrives at the awards with Calista Flockhart
Downey Jr arrives at the awards with Calista Flockhart
Robert Downey Jr's Golden Globe for best TV supporting actor, for his role as Calista Flockhart's boyfriend in Ally McBeal, shows the actor's enduring appeal.

Despite his drug conviction and attempts at rehabilitation, he has managed to maintain his career and his reputation as one of the finest actors of his generation.

Downey Jr was born in New York in 1965 to his avant-garde film director father of the same name.

His film career began very early - at the age of five he played a puppy in his father's satirical film, Pound.

He said in a recent interview with film director Mike Figgis that he decided to become an actor aged seven or eight.

Downey Jr
Downey Jr was delighted with his award
"We were doing this play in the classroom," he said.

"I made my entrance into the classroom and I think I said: 'Yield the castle now, Lady Roxanne.'

"And people liked that fact I had the confidence to say that. It just worked, I felt confident."

With 50 film credits to his name, he has gained the reputation of an actor whose screen presence and talent are undeniable.

The actor grew up among the liberal community of Greenwich Village, and left school before graduating.

By the age of 20 he did a season of Saturday Night Live, the late-night live sketch comedy show.

Ally McBeal
Golden Globe award for his Ally McBeal role
By 1984, he was playing major roles in films including First Born, in 1984, where he met his now former partner Sarah Jessica Parker.

He stood out as a debt-ridden cocaine user in Less than Zero in 1987, and was also one of the many actors in Robert Altman's acclaimed Short Cuts in 1993.

Official recognition came when he was nominated for an Academy Award for his physically demanding title role in Chaplin in 1992, depicting the silent star from youth through to old age.

Downey's son, Indio, was born to the actor his now ex-wife Deborah Falconer in 1994.

In the same year he played a news reporter in Natural Born Killers, the violent film about two psychopathic serial murderers.

Other notable film credits came from his starring performance in Two Girls and a Guy, with Heather Graham and Natasha Gregson Wagner.

'Very humble'

He played the boyfriend of two women, who confront him when they find out he is dating both of them at the same time.

Other recent roles include an artist diagnosed with Aids in Mike Figgis' 1997 One Night Stand, and as a literary editor in the quirky Wonder Boys, starring Michael Douglas.

Despite his difficulties with drugs, he has kept his sights firmly on acting.

He was contrite as he accepted his Golden Globe, saying afterwards that it made him feel very humble, and would help with his self-esteem.

He said people had been coming up to him on the street and offering their support, and added: "I've been doing my part lately."

Fox, which makes the hit legal series, said it would like to extend his run beyond the 10 episodes he has made, but the court case had left his future availability in doubt.

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See also:

28 Dec 00 | Entertainment
Downey Jr pleads not guilty
11 Aug 00 | Entertainment
Downey Jr lands McBeal role
20 Dec 00 | Entertainment
Downey Jr's parole confirmed
14 Dec 00 | Entertainment
Gibson determined to work with Downey
12 Dec 00 | Entertainment
Further drugs charge for Downey Jr
03 Aug 00 | Entertainment
Downey Jr freed from prison
06 Aug 99 | Americas
Addicted Downey Jnr jailed
29 Nov 00 | Entertainment
Downey Jr arrest boosts ratings
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