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Birthday Special: 5 Times Robert Downey Jr Stole Our Hearts With His Performances

Birthday Special Robert Downey Jr
Author : Jeet Jobanputra

Robert Downey Jr (RDJ) is best known for his playing the fictional British detective Sherlock Holmes and the genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist Tony Stark aka Iron Man form Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

As One of the highest-paid Hollywood actors working today, Robert Downey Jr. turns 53 today. He has a closet full of memorable performances since he made his debut as a child actor in 1970.

Let’s take a stroll down memory lane and take a look at the five best performances by RDJ before he dawned the suit of Iron Man.

  1. Chaplin (1992)


    This biographical comedy-drama about the life of British comedian Charlie Chaplin may not have been a commercial success like the MCU films, but Downey Jr’s performance as Chaplin was revered by audiences and critics alike. So much so, that RDJ received an Oscar nomination in the Best Actor category for his performance.



    The role that made studios think, “Hey, this guy should play Iron Man … or even Sherlock Holmes.” As Harry Lockhart, a small-time crook masquerading as an actor masquerading as a private detective, the rejuvenated Downey delivers the most mirthful and magnetic performance of his career in this relentlessly giddy and endlessly quotable goof on film noir. It’s like Downey’s a Gatling gun, and writer/director Shane Black is the guy in back feeding it ceaseless new rounds of crackerjack dialogue. It’s a match made in a quip-heavy heaven (except in that heaven, Downey and Val Kilmer do a hundred more buddy detective movies together), plus there are hints of future Tony Stark in Downey’s deft, droll, breakneck delivery. It’s 100 percent fun from tip to tail, and Downey owns the show, even when he’s off-screen serving as the king of unreliable narrators. But as Harry puts it, “I don’t see another goddamn narrator, so pipe down.”

  3. Tropic Thunder (2008)


    RDJ’s portrayal of Kirk Lazarus – an Australian actor who undergoes a skin pigmentation operation and only speaks in a ‘Black English’ accent is his most iconic performance outside of playing Tony Stark. His performance was received so well that Downey Jr got a second Oscar nomination in the Best Supporting Actor category, but lost to Heath Ledger for his role as the Joker in The Dark Knight.

  4. Iron Man (2008)

    Iron Man 3 Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) Film Frame ©Marvel Studios 2013

    Robert Downey had to audition for Tony Stark in Iron Man, but thank God the studio came to their senses and cast him. Can you imagine anyone else matching Downey’s acerbic wit, confidence, and charisma in the role, or carrying a brand-new film franchise when so many others (Ryan Reynolds as The Green Lantern, Seth Rogen as The Green Hornet, Ben Affleck as Daredevil, Will Smith as Hancock, the list goes on) have attempted similar feats and failed? Downey was not an A-lister before Iron Man, but he became one afterwards. And in The Avengers, which went on to become the top-grossing film of 2012, he cemented his star status with aplomb; even in an epic movie crowded with other superheroes, most of the best lines come from Tony Stark: “genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist.” He’s an asshole sometimes, sure, but that Downey can make him a lovable asshole worth cheering for is perhaps the greatest coup of all. Also, allow me to be a girl for a second. RDJ has the sarcastic, slightly selfish antihero angle down pat — although make no mistake, he always does the right thing in the end — but it’s his surprisingly marvellous (pun intended) chemistry with Gwyneth Paltrow as right-hand woman Pepper Potts that makes Tony’s signature snark that much sweeter.

  5. Sherlock Holmes: Game Of Shadows (2011)


    The reason that Game of Shadows is a better film than its predecessor, 2009’s Sherlock Holmes, comes down to one pivotal point: Downey’s performance, particularly with regards to his repartee with the other actors. Sure, he was great in the first instalment, with his quick-witted, cavalier reboot of the iconic detective pairing nicely with Jude Law’s more nebbish Dr Watson. However, his face-off with Jared Harris’ Professor Moriarty in the sequel really upped the ante, giving Downey the chance to show off his dramatic as well as comedic chops. Game of Shadows‘ Sherlock is a bit darker, certainly more disturbed by this film’s choice of an adversary, and maybe not so cocksure after all. In short, he’s more interesting the second time around, and when the plot thickens, a lot more inventive, too.

With the next instalment of Avengers just around the corner, we just can’t hold our excitement to watch this star on the screen again! Happy Birthday, Robert Downey Jr!

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