The Comeback Kid
However, Robert's addictions became front-page news in 1996. On a routine stop, police found heroin, crack cocaine and a gun in his car. After skipping mandatory drug tests, there were more arrests and jail time. In 1999, a judge sentenced Robert to hard time in Corcoran State Prison, home to Charles Manson. Despite a stint in prison and his escalating trouble with drugs and the law, Hollywood kept calling. Ratings soared when Robert joined the cast of the hit TV show Ally McBeal—he even won a Golden Globe for his performance as Ally's boyfriend—yet, he still could not control his life-threatening addiction. After two more arrests, he was sentenced to a yearlong live-in treatment program. Today, Robert Downey Jr. says he's been off drugs for two years.
Oprah: Do you still get urges to do drugs?
Robert: I have not even an inkling of a desire.
Oprah: Was it Jodie Foster who confronted you at some point? Tell me what that was like. You were on a film that she was directing?
Robert: First of all, Jodie Foster confronting you is not a comfortable situation. She said, "You know you're doing great on this film and I know that you're loaded, too, so, what's wrong with this picture? I'm worried about you. Not on this one, because we're almost done and you're going to be okay, and I know you have a really strong work ethic and you're kind of like a lab rat. You're really resilient. That's not a good thing in this situation. I'm worried about you for the next movie." And she was absolutely right.
Oprah: Is it true that Sean Penn whisked you off once on a private jet to get you into rehab, and then you ran away?
Robert: "Whisked me off." I wish it were that pleasant. Yes. That's half of it. What he did was kicked my door down. That was another thing. Jodie Foster and then the next minute the door flies off the hinges and there's Sean Penn in that leather jacket, like, "It's time to pay the piper!"
Robert: You think it's supposed to get more and more dramatic, it's not a movie. It's real life. For me, I just happened to be in a situation the very last time and I said, "You know what? I don't think I can continue doing this." And I reached out for help and I ran with it, you know? Because you can reach out for help in a half-assed way, and you'll get it, and you won't take advantage of it. You know? It's really not that difficult to overcome these seemingly ghastly problems.
Oprah: You are saying that it's not that difficult?
Robert: No. What's hard is to decide.
Oprah: That's big. That's really big.
"I just feel like she's my best friend and we really get along well," Robert says of Susan. "And she also just calls me on everything. And she's multi-tasking squared. She's doing this and she's doing that. She's reading a script. She's pinning her hair. And it just blows my mind how capable she is in functioning in life. And she has a great sense of humor and she's a little bit crazy, too, because she's sitting right here next to me. We're getting married."
Under the watchful eye of his sifu, which is Chinese for teacher, Robert does his intense workout up to six times a week, and says that it has helped him make his life more stable. "[Wing Chun] gives you a sense of comfort and self-defense. It improves your focus. It just does so many things. It makes you feel you're a part of something you respect."
On the show, he performed "Broken."