Robert Downey Jr. Discusses Addiction With 'Playboy'

I love Playboy interviews, and I love Robert Downey Jr. Two great tastes that taste great together: the magazine's November issue, which features a fascinating-looking discussion with one of my favorite actors.

Downey's been through some tough times, to say the least, after a much-publicized drug addiction. From 1996 to 2003, Downey was arrested multiple times on drug-related charges, and he tried several rehab programs that didn't work. In 1999, he told a judge,

It's like I have a loaded gun in my mouth and my finger's on the trigger, and I like the taste of the gunmetal.

Not to get overly personal on you or anything, but I can barely read that quote without feeling my eyes sting. As someone who struggled for years with alcoholism, I know that state of mind all too well. I know that taste of gunmetal.


Robert Downey Jr. is one of my heroes not only for his phenomenal talents as an entertainer, but because of who he is as a person. At 45, he's managed to overcome his addiction demons, he's moved on to an amazing and well-deserved career, and he's well aware of how far he's come and what it took to get where he is today. In the interview, he says he hasn't forgotten his difficult past.

I think of myself as someone who has no desire, use for or conscious memory of that life. And yet I don't shut the door on it, and I don't pretend it didn't happen. […] More than anything I have this sense that I’m a veteran of a war that is difficult to discuss with people who haven’t been there.

He also discusses the importance of taking responsibility for one's actions:

To me, here’s the only thing: You take responsibility, whether you’re outraged by the results or not, that you in some way participate in and create what you’re experiencing. It’s people who stay stuck—and I relate to this because it’s a card I’m happy to play when I’m tired or overwrought—who think, I’m a victim; I’m being victimized!

I think my favorite quote from the article is what he has to say about discipline:

Discipline for me is about respect. It’s not even about self-respect; it’s about respect for life and all it offers. And not indulging. I have happily reconsidered my position on a bunch of things I didn’t want on my ‘no’ list despite all evidence that I couldn’t handle them. At the end of the day, anything I think I’m sacrificing I’m just giving up because it makes me feel better.

There are actors I find good-looking, there are actors I find enjoyable to watch, and there are actors I think are probably really neat people. To me, Robert Downey Jr.'s a triple threat and then some, and I can't think of anyone else I find more inspiring in Hollywood.

Lindsay? You might want to take notes.

Image via annie.kisskiss/Flickr

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