Robert Downey Jr. discusses his tumultuous relationship with his late father, Robert Downey Sr., in his new Netflix documentary “Sr.”
Downey Sr. passed away at age 85 in July 2021 after a battle with Parkinson’s disease.
Downey Jr. talks about becoming addicted to drugs at the young age of 8 after his father gave him cannabis for the first time at the age of six in the harrowing documentary, which was produced by the actor and his wife Susan.
“I think we would be remiss not to discuss its effect on me,” Downey Jr. says to Downey Sr. about 40 minutes into the film, referring to his dad’s issues with substance misuse.
“Boy, I would sure love to miss that discussion,” Downey Sr. replies.
Then, in what appears to be the early 2000s, around the time Downey Jr. became sober, footage of Downey Sr. speaking to his son is shown.
“A lot of us did things and thought it would be hypocritical to not have our kids participate in marijuana and stuff like that,” Downey Sr. says in the clip, with his arm around his son’s shoulders. “So we thought it was cute to let them smoke. It was an idiot move on our parts, a lot of us, to share that with our children
“I’m just happy he’s here, that’s all,” Downey Sr. adds, noting that there were “many times,” he thought that wouldn’t be the case.
Downey Jr.’s drug and alcohol problems seemed to spiral out of control in the 1990s after he rose to fame with roles in 1987’s “Less Than Zero” and 1992’s “Chaplin,” for which he received an Oscar nomination.
In 1996, police found heroin, cocaine, and crack in Downey Jr.’s car, as well as an unloaded .357 Magnum, when he was stopped for speeding, per ABC News. That same year, he was arrested when his neighbors found him passed out in their 11-year-old son’s bed.
Over the following few years, Downey Jr. spent extended periods in prison and drug rehab centers, twice escaping from treatment. Downey Jr. checked into a rehab facility after receiving more arrests, including one where he was discovered wandering the streets of Los Angeles in bare feet. He eventually found sobriety there.
“It was just playing a game of wanting to self-soothe or stay loaded, rather than deal with the fact that things had gone off the tracks a little bit,” Downey Jr. says of addiction in the documentary. “More than anything, I look back and go, ‘It’s shocking that a single film came out finished.’”