Hollywood's Habit of Indulgence Hurt Downey!

Hollywood's Habit of Indulgence Hurt Downey!
Posted by FoM on August 09, 1999 at 21:04:42 PT
Jamie Portman,The Ottawa Citizen
Source: The Ottawa Citizen
Producers happily employed the actor while turning a blind eye to his drug addiction. This philosophy, Jamie Portman writes compounded Downey's problems.
Seven years ago, Robert Downey Jr. faced a group of reporters in a Beverly Hills hotel suite and declared that he was clean of drugs. "This is it for me," he said passionately. "There will never be anything like this again. I'm not going to kid myself." And of course, we wanted to believe him. Besides, it made a great human interest story to write about the rehabilitation from drug addiction of a gifted young actor whose career seemed set to enter a glorious new chapter as a result of his Oscar-calibre title performance in Chaplin. The phrases came easily to him that morning. He was "coming out of the darkness and into the light." Things had been "weird" for him in the 1980s: "I was really self-destructive and in a real holding pattern of negativity." He talked about the lessons he had learned: "Human beings are so resilient. There's a real magic to what your spirit can achieve." And playing Charlie Chaplin on the big screen was "a gift" in the wake of his successful rehabilitation from drugs. "It was like being in a car accident and all of a sudden there's some paramedics around saying you're going to be all right." The Downey talking that December day in 1992 was far removed from the jumpy, addled, inarticulate young actor who used to leave us in despair with his monosyllabic responses. But we know now that the rehabilitation was illusory. He would return to using drugs and would continue to fail more drug programs. We had glimpses that something was wrong three years later when a bleary-eyed Downey sat down with reporters to discuss the movie Restoration. He claimed his condition was due to the fact that he had been up half the night re-recording some dialogue for the film. But that didn't explain his poor colour or his listlessness. Yet, he was almost pathetically eager to make a good impression and to make us understand that there had been no backsliding. And we gave him the benefit of the doubt. Were we taken in? A few months later, Downey was stopped for speeding on the Pacific Coast Highway. The police found cocaine, heroin and a pistol in his car. A month later he broke into a neighbour's home and was discovered unconscious on a child's bed. Another downward spiral was under way. Downey was sentenced to three years probation for the drugs and weapons charges on the condition he went back into rehabilitation. Probation was revoked because of his continuing drug use and he was sentenced to six months in prison. He was released in March 1998, after serving four months. In June of this year, he was again imprisoned for missing required drug testing. And this past Thursday, he was given a stiff three-year sentence by a judge whose patience had clearly run out and who had concluded that Downey had manipulated doctors and psychiatrists during seven court-ordered drug rehabilitation programs. It's reasonable to assume that Downey has also manipulated members of the media who have talked to him over the years. He's likable. He has a quality of vulnerability about him. His acting gifts are undeniable. One wants the best for him. Yet, he has also been a pampered celebrity. Both the courts and law enforcement agencies have made allowances for him that would be denied more common mortals. In fact, the same judge who has now sent Downey to the slammer for three years indulged him 18 months previously when he was serving an earlier term. In the winter of 1998, Judge Lawrence J. Mira sprung Downey on three separate occasions so he could work on various film projects. During his outings Downey was treated like royalty -- signing autographs for awed sheriff's deputies and buying them lunch in Paramount's VIP dining room. Finally an outraged Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department decided it had had enough and secured a higher court order to keep Downey behind bars. It is one thing to feel compassion over Downey's losing battle with a drug habit that began when he was still a youngster. It's quite another to indulge him. And, as the Los Angeles Times pointed out in a tough editorial last year, Downey has been indulged -- not just by the courts and by the police but by the film industry as well. The Times zeroed in on what had long been an open secret in Hollywood: producers had continued to employ Downey while turning a blind eye to his drug problem. And if he happened to be behind bars when his services were required on the film set -- well, that wouldn't really be a problem because a friendly judge would let him out. But Downey's case is scarcely an isolated one. There is a pervasive philosophy in some Hollywood circles that the stars need only live by the rules when it's convenient to them and their employers. At the same time Downey was getting his day passes to work on a movie, actor Christian Slater, who has also been in trouble with the law over drugs, was allowed to delay the start of a jail sentence so he could promote his latest movie. This is not a new phenomenon. Take a look at a dreadful 1974 movie called The Klansman. Richard Burton is visibly inebriated in virtually every scene; in some he seems on the verge of passing out. Yet his behaviour was excused and tolerated throughout the filming. Most people who get drunk on the job or who are functioning poorly because of other forms of substance abuse would be fired. But Hollywood, of course, marches to its own drummer, contributing to the self-destructiveness of the Robert Downeys and Richard Burtons of this world. Pubdate: August 9, 1999Copyright 1999 Ottawa CitizenRobert Downey Jr. Sentenced To Three Years Prison - 8/05/99 Downey Jr is Led Off to Jail Again - 6/22/99
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Comment #1 posted by Armand on July 14, 2001 at 12:21:20 PT:
Hi im 16 yrs. old and i like to be an actor i have Drama class i like it but i want to go in hollywood.Please send me back and tell me what i can do.
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