Robert Downey Jr., who concluded a decade-long run as Tony Stark with Avengers: Endgame, reflected on his troubled pre-comeback days in an interview on last night’s post-Super Bowl episode of The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.
“I could relate to Tony Stark a lot by the time I played him,” Downey told Colbert (watch the segment above), “a guy who really needed to be handed a dose of ouch.”
As Colbert noted, Downey began his career with a bang in roles such as the title character in 1992’s Chaplin before “disappearing into” himself (Downey used a cruder term). Though it went unstated, Downey made frequent headlines in the late 1990s for drug-related arrests.
Downey said that his comeback suggested that Hollywood can be “a very forgiving industry,” noting, “I was fortunate in that I was pre-Internet with much of my misbehavior, but I think I always had a bit of a moral psychology and I always wanted to kinda do the right thing, which doesn’t count for much, and then I kinda took it on the chin.
Downey then gave credit to other actors – no names – who “dusted themselves off,” saying, “It’s a very American thing to build up and break down and come back. It is in its own weird way the heroes journey.”
The actor also discussed the possibility of Colbert, an Avengers fan, joining the franchise cast at some point (don’t hold your breath), as well as Downey’s work with the new environmental nonprofit the Footprint Coalition.
Watch the discussion of Downey’s comeback above, and the segment about Colbert’s Avengers love, as well as the Footprint Coalition, below.