Robert Downey Jr. Opens up About Heavy Drug Use During David Letterman Interview

Robery Downer Jr. is recounting some of the darkest days of his life, including the heights of his drug abuse. Before Downey, 55, turned his life and career around in the mid-2000s, he went through decades of drug use. Things came to ahead in the late '90s and early 2000s, with Downey being arrested on drug charges several times. He served time in prison on those charges, and it nearly tanked his career.

In a new interview on Netflix's My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman, the now-sober Iron Man actor recalls being in a "near-coma" at points before being revived in order to start working. He confirmed to Letterman that he used heroin and cocaine and drank heavily, as well. He claims this substance abuse issues began when he was 8 years old and did not stop until age 38. "Back then, when I was a kid, doing that, you could say that it was ‘fun’, but it was pretty stressful too,” he said, per the Hindustan Times.

He recalled one instance while filming 1995's Home for the Holidays, which Jodie Foster directed and produced. She noted his abuse during the production and advised him not to "try this again."

"There was a single crossover, and I call it the most relaxed performance in the history of cinema,” Downey said. “She was really critical of just being like, ‘Well, looks like you're getting away with it on this one. I wouldn't try this again because we're kind of a forgiving group.' I was like, 'Wasn't that last take great?’ She's like, 'Yeah, you're great. It's going great.'"

He added: "And then when I, you know, was locked up in a penitentiary, she sent me a letter saying, 'Let me tell you about what I meant by it's going great.'"

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He also noted there was not a "tipping point" where his addiction began, citing "the culture that I was raised in" as what spurred it. “As the AMA [American Medical Association] will say that alcoholism or addiction is essentially a brain disease, but it's a brain disease that people don’t want to take the cure for when it’s offered, so it’s a very insidious thing.”

My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman is currently streaming on Netflix. Downey appears in Episode 2 of Season 3, which Netflix released on Wednesday. Downey's latest movie, Dolittle, is currently available digitally and physically.