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Friday, 11 August, 2000, 09:32 GMT 10:32 UK
Downey Jr lands McBeal role
Robert Downey Jr
Robert Downey Jr has something to smile about at last
Actor Robert Downey Jr has landed a role in the hit TV series Ally McBeal, just a week after being released from prison.

The 35-year-old star will play a mysterious stranger who strikes up a friendship with Ally, played by Calista Flockhart.

Downey Jr's character will have a regular role in the popular US show, which attracts millions of viewers.

Robert Downey Jr
The actor is looking forward to wearing a different coloured shirt

It is a far cry from the California State Prison, where the actor served 12 months of a three- year sentence for cocaine possession.

He was released last Wednesday after an appeal court heard he had served 323 days in a drug rehabilitation centre.

Downey Jr returned to the Walden House centre in Los Angeles upon his release, to readjust to life on the outside, but could not have hoped to be back in work so soon.

Thrilled

Ally McBeal creator David E. Kelley said: "We're thrilled. We've admired his work for years and know he'll make an enormous contribution to the show."

Downey Jr responded by enthusing: "David's a genius and Calista's awesome." He even found time to poke fun at the time he spent in prison by adding: "Once again I have a choice of shirt colours."

The star's problems began in 1996 when he was stopped for speeding on the Pacific Coast Highway and police found cocaine, heroin and a pistol in his pick-up truck.

He was sent to prison in August last year for violating a probation order by repeatedly missing mandatory drug tests.

The son of movie director Robert Downey, he is best known for his role in Chaplin, for which he received an Oscar nomination. His other films include Less Than Zero, Natural Born Killers, One Night Stand and US Marshals.

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See also:

04 Aug 00 | Entertainment
Downey checks into drug centre
03 Aug 00 | Entertainment
Downey Jr freed from prison
30 Jun 00 | Entertainment
Ally McBeal star set for West End
06 Aug 99 | Americas
Addicted Downey Jnr jailed
27 Mar 00 | Entertainment
Singapore's Ally McBeal ban
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