Really, how can one not enjoy pretty much anything Robert Downey, Jr. does? The good, the bad and even the ugly of Downey’s roller coaster of a career is great fun. When I first saw the trailer for the upcoming The Avengers, and therefore first saw the amount of cool guy swagger Downey Jr. has, I instantly thought that the actor needs to be in every trailer made – even if he is not in the movies themselves. He just brings an enormous amount of charm and charisma to everything he is attached to – even to his arrests and mugshots. But we are here not to speak of the more sordid moments in the man’s past, but the highlights of his acting career which incidentally began at the age of five when the actor played a puppy in Pound, a film directed by his father.
Before going on, I would like to mention some runners-up. I liked Downey in films like Chances Are, Soapdish, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, 1969 and In Dreams, but overall these films were quite mediocre and have been left off the list. There are also three films from the actor’s oeuvre – Fur, The Singing Detective and Home For the Holidays – which I have not seen, and therefore cannot judge one way or the other, so for now they stay off the list.
I would also like to mention his role on TV’s Ally McBeal, for he was one of the highlights of that show for the two seasons he appeared. We should probably just skip over his one season run on SNL since it was one of the low points of the show. Anyway, on with the show…..
Sure, lead Michael Douglas runs away with this movie (why he did not win a second Oscar, or even get nominated, I will never know) and it is memorable for giving Dylan his Oscar, but the supporting staff is a knock out as well, and the best knock out of them all is our intrepid Mr. Downey, playing the typical Robert Downey, Jr. kind of role. In other words, Downey being Downey – and that is a fun thing to watch indeed.
Another film with Downey being Downey. Here he plays a man who gets all hot and bothered by sadist sexual acts. Now I am not saying this is necessarily what Downey himself is into (though it may be, who knows) but he does give the rather repugnant character a strange sense of charm that makes him stand out in a very crowded ensemble piece by Altman.
Released way back in 1987, when Downey was just 21 (and I was 19), this teen comedy about a smooth-talking rogue, played by you-know-who, and the girl who tames him by beating him at his own game (the ever popular Molly Ringwald), may not be a great film, or possibly even a good film, but with Downey in the role of the barely legal roué, it sure is a fun picture – and especially so for the barely legal me at the time I first saw it.
7. Kirk Lazarus in ‘Tropic Thunder’
“What do you mean you people!?” ” What do YOU mean you people!!?” I am not all that much of a Ben Stiller fan, so I was not expecting much out of this film, but I ended up being more than pleasantly surprised by the outcome – and the best part of that pleasant surprise was Downey as a method actor who turns himself into a black man for a role. The film highlights Downey great talent for snide comedy.
Based on the Bret Easton Ellis novel, this film, the dark antithesis to The Pick-Up Artist out at the same time, helped Downey become a star. Granted, he would not become a superstar until later, but his performance here, as a self-entitled, drug-addicted member of the decadent wealth culture of L.A. is the actor’s first truly great role – and he blows it out of the water.
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