So yeah, just to get it right up front—he’s hot:
You know what, I always thought he was hot. Even when he was starring in those stupid Brat-Pack flicks; even when he was using. Most of all I thought he was smart and artistically gifted, and I was frustrated when, instead of hearing the next casting announcement, we’d get the next mug shot …
… and I began to keep my eye out for the story about his body turning up in a Dumpster.
Instead, he’s now Iron Man AND Sherlock Holmes. Rolling Stone profiles him in the May 13 issue. Walter Kirn (who wrote the novel Up in the Air, on which the film was based) hangs out with Downey in L.A. for two days and peels the wallpaper back to reveal a bit of the brick and studs of the house that Downey has built. Or recovered.
We get Robert Downey, Jr. talking about being “in the continual process of transcending fear-based rituals,” and about how, “In the moment, when you zero out your board, anything is possible.”
Downey has put a great deal of protective infrastructure in place:
Downey reserves two slots a week—paid in advance—with a therapist he calls “the best shrink in America.” One session is devoted to regular maintenance of his relationship with his wife. The other is a “floater” to be used as needed. … The array of problem-solving machinery that Downey relies on to protect himself from his own weaknesses and screw-ups is no mere celebrity-lifestyle amenity. Not in his case, anyway. “The ramifications of a little slip are not what they used to be,” he told me. “It’s not kid stuff anymore.” The truth is that kid stuff, for Downey, was never kid stuff. It was crack cocaine and heroin, publicized courtroom proceedings, incarcerations.
Kinda scary, that, but real: the fact that, at, what, eight years clean, he’s still thinking about “the ramifications of a little slip.”
The best part is the ending, where Downey demonstrates a fact: that every addict—every honest person, really—no matter how far he’s come and how much things have turned around for him, wants to be seen as and appreciated for exactly who he is. And he needs to remind himself how bad it can get, so that “little slip” doesn’t happen.