5 things about Iron Man star Robert Downey Jr

Once a Hollywood bad boy, Iron Man star Robert Downey Jr seems to have put his past problems with drugs and the law behind him.

His latest movie The Judge is the first project for Team Downey, the production company he founded with producer wife Susan.  The US$50-million (S$63.5 million) drama, where he plays a slick Chicago lawyer,  is a far cry from his blockbuster Iron Man films.

Downey, 49, and a veteran of drug rehabilitation credits his wife for saving him from giving in to Hollywood excess.

Here are five things about the Hollywood A-lister, who has gone from Brat Pack member to box-office champion.

1. He's getting top dollar

He is said to be the highest paid actor in Hollywood, reputed to earn between US$50 million and US$75 million for each movie. He seems to be worth it: Iron Man 3 (2013) has to date earned US$1.2 billion worldwide.

2. Latest film is his most personal

For The Judge, a passion project which he says is his most personal film yet, the entire budget is US$50 million. Co-produced by the label he founded with wife Susan, it is not known how much he is paying himself, if at all.

3. His wife is his saviour

The former bon vivant often credits his wife for pulling him out of a downward spiral of drugs, parties and arrests for possession of heroin and cocaine and everything in between, but he sometimes makes fun of her as well.

When making the acceptance speech after winning Best Actor - Musical Or Comedy at the Golden Globes in 2010 for Sherlock Holmes (2009), he feigned anger at her. “First of all, I would like thank Susan Downey for telling me that Matt Damon would win, so ‘don’t bother to prepare a speech’.”

4. His Brat Pack past

While a young, up-and coming actor in the 1980s, he was lumped with Molly Ringwald, Rob Lowe, Ally Sheedy and other rising stars in what was called the Brat Pack. That was when he made his name playing smart, articulate characters with a self-destructive streak, a trait that would carry over into his personal life.

5. He's done time in jail

In the mid-1990s to early 2000s, he was arrested on drugs charges, and one weapons charge when an unloaded pistol was found in his car.

He spent six months in the Los Angeles County Jail and served a year in a treatment centre-prison. He was considered washed up and was uninsurable on film projects.

Then, having proved that he was hireable again with The Singing Detective (2003) and Gothika (2003), more offers came in, and he again began winning praise for performances in the detective noir Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, which was written and directed by Shane Black, who would work with Downey again on Iron Man 3.