Larry Vaughn with Mentora Vaughn Gratrix
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Overcoming Obstacles: Robert Downey, Jr.

Hollywood has the biggest heart in the world, and if there is any place where someone would be forgiven, it’s this town.
Tom Sherak, Former President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

Because of their celebrity status, it is hard for many of us to think of actors as everyday people who often have the same struggles in life that we do. And yet the Hollywood crowd is more like us than you might think. Be it health issues, finances, marital problems, drug abuse, or whatever the case might be, just because they are actors doesn’t mean their life is a whole lot better than yours or mine.

Robert Downey, Jr., like many, has experienced his share of the ups and downs in the rollercoaster of life. Being the son of an actor, Robert started his acting career at the age of five. His first great role came in 1992 when he starred as Charlie Chaplin, the title character in the film Chaplin, which earned him the nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actor. After Chaplin, Downey’s drug addiction became a huge problem for not only his career but his personal life as well.

After being released in 2000 from the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison where he was on drug charges, Downey was cast in the television show Ally McBeal. Later, he was fired from the show and his character was written out when he was arrested in late 2000 and early 2001. The judge sentenced Robert to another stay in a court-ordered treatment program. Sounds like what we had here was a talented but out-of-control man. Thankfully, this time around, Robert got his substance abuse under control.

Now fast forward to 2014. After a string of successful films, Sherlock Holmes and its sequel, Zodiac, three Iron Man films, and let’s not forget The Avengers, Robert Downey went from being a big risk for a studios to even consider him for a role in a feature film, to being the highest paid actor two years running. His salary for 2013 and 2014 is a whopping $150 million—making him the highest paid actor in the world.

It looks like Tom Sherak got it right when he said, “Hollywood has the biggest heart in the world, and if there is any place where someone would be forgiven, it’s this town.” This story does make me pause and reflect on forgiveness and giving second, third, and even fourth chances. While everyone desires forgiveness, it’s often so hard to forgive and even harder to forgive again. However, we are supposed to forgive not just “seven times, but seventy times seven.”

Movie trivia:

Who offered Robert his first joint of marijuana and how old was Robert at the time?

Answer: 5 years old by his father

As a child who was one of Robert’s favorite comic book characters?

Answer: Ironman

 

 

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2 Responses

  1. Lucy says:

    What a touching story , and valuable lesson. Yes, it seems America wants to put everyone down, and we have forgotten about forgiveness. Thanks for the reminder!

    • Larry Vaughn says:

      Lucy, you are welcome. When writing this post I was once again, reminded how important it is that we forgive one another.

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