Robert Downey Jr. might be one of the most well-respected actors in the world now after turning himself into a major box-office attraction. Through roles in such films as Sherlock Holmes, Marvel’s Iron Man, and The Avengers, Downey has cemented his status as one of the biggest talents of his generation.
Yet his fortunes weren’t always so bright. Plenty of readers will likely remember the Downey Jr. of old, who was even sentenced to federal prison during the 1990s.
It goes without saying that the two versions of the mnan are like night and day. As such, it’s hardly a surprise that the actor himself, now 58, doesn’t spend too much time reflecting on that period of his life where things came perilously close to spiraling out of control.
In a new interview, however, Downey Jr. has spoken candidly on his time behind bars, stating that he “could just feel the evil in the air.”
It’s difficult to believe that Robert Downey Jr. actually spent time in federal prison. The Oppenheimer actor was arrested while driving under the influence, and later sentenced to a three-year prison sentence for skipping out on probation.
According to reports, Downey was arrested in 1996 and charged with driving under the influence. Police found heroin, cocaine, crack and a .357 Magnum in his vehicle.
In a recent interview, Downey Jr. opened up regarding his time behind bars.
“I’m gonna try to give you the flashcards: I’m in court, I’m being over-sentenced by an angry judge, and at some point he said something in Latin,” Downey Jr. told the “Armchair Expert” podcast.
“I thought he was casting a spell on me.”
He continued: “Two weeks later, I’m in a place called Delano, which is a receiving center where they decide where you’re going to go. Arguably the most dangerous place I’ve ever been in my life because nobody is designated. If they’re a level 1, 2, 3 or 4 criminal, [everyone’s there]. You could just feel the evil in the air.
“It was kind of like just being in a really bad neighborhood, and there was no opportunity there; there was only threats. So, yes, everyone is going to take your wallet, so watch it.”
As for his first moments in the actual prison facility where he would serve his time, Downey Jr. recalled: “Walking onto the yard that you’re gonna be doing more than a year on for the first time, the closest thing I can associate it to is being sent to a distant planet where there is no way home until the planets align…”
In 2016, Downey was pardoned by California’s governor, thus restoring the actor’s voting rights. The star’s conviction wasn’t wiped from the record, but the governor’s office described the gesture as a public proclamation that Downey had demonstrated “exemplary behavior.”
I sometimes forget that Robert Downey Jr. spent a year of his life in federal prison!
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