Robert Downey Jr. attempted different career paths before landing Hollywood roles and admitted he was once fired.
Downey Jr.’s first leading role was “The Pick-up Artist” in 1987, but before that he worked a handful of jobs.
“Well, I worked at a sandwich shop. I worked at a shoe store, but I had sticky fingers and I got fired after two weeks,” he told film critic Leonard Maltin at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, via People magazine. “This is before those closed-circuit cameras where they monitor who might be sitting. … I was not very good at it.”
“And I worked in clubs and I worked at Thrifty’s in Santa Monica,” Downey Jr. added. “I made it to busboy, but I didn’t really have the panache to be a waiter, I was told, so I had to resort to theater.”
When asked if he attributed his career success to “destiny,” Downey Jr. said: “Yeah, I think this is what I was supposed to do.”
The “Oppenheimer” star wasn’t a stranger to Hollywood when he made it big.
Downey Jr. is the son of director Robert Downey Sr., who died in 2021. The filmmaker was known for movies such as “Putney Swope,” “Boogie Nights,” “The Family Man” and “To Live and Die in L.A.”
Downey Jr. appeared in his first film, “Pound,” at the age of five. The 1970 movie was directed by his father.
Before Downey Jr.’s larger roles, the actor spent time behind bars.
Downey Jr. was arrested in 1996 and charged with driving under the influence. Police also found heroin, cocaine, crack and a .357 Magnum in his vehicle.
California’s governor pardoned Downey in 2016, which ultimately restored the actor’s voting rights. The pardon didn’t erase the actor’s conviction, but was a public proclamation that the person has demonstrated “exemplary behavior,” according to the governor’s office.
He only served one year of his three-year sentence.
“It was kind of like just being in a really bad neighborhood, and there was no opportunity there; there was only threats,” Downey Jr. recalled during an episode of the “Armchair Expert” podcast. “So, yes, everyone is going to take your wallet, so watch it.”
The Avengers star also shared his first moment in the prison facility.
“Walking onto the yard that you’re gonna be doing more than a year on for the first time, the closest thing I can associate it to is being sent to a distant planet where there is no way home until the planets align,” the actor explained.