Sunday, August 15, 2010

Robert Downey Jr: Transition from teenage idol to actor

Today’s young male poster boys can look to a number of current A-listers, whose faces were once plastered on teenagers’ bedroom walls everywhere, as winning prototypes to emulate. Leonardo DiCaprio, Johnny Depp, Robert Downey Jr., and Ethan Hawke all figured out a way to successfully transition from Tiger Beat lust-object to celebrated, award-nabbing Hollywood headliners. [...] The flickering of Downey’s talent has always been evident. Even in films as superficial as “The Pick-up Artist’’ and “Less Than Zero,’’ Downey was able to elevate the milquetoast material. But it wasn’t until “Chaplin’’ that the actor’s true talent for manic brilliance shined brightest. Unfortunately, Downey spent a decade pinballing from rehab to the clink. Yet even during this tumultuous period, he delivered sparkling performances in films as varied as “Two Girls and a Guy’’ and “Wonder Boys.’’ After sobering up, he came back with bravura turns in indie gems like “A Scanner Darkly’’ before graduating to thinking-man’s action star in “Iron Man’’ and skewering Method acting minstrelsy with his hilariously layered work in “Tropic Thunder.’’ [...] Today’s young male stars would also be wise to emulate Depp, Downey, and Matt Damon’s penchant for mixing challenging dramatic fare with smart action spectacle.

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