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Robert Downey Sr was a maverick workaholic filmmaker who moved his actress wife Elsie, elder daughter Allyson - once a cocaine addict and now a fledgling filmmaker - and Robert Jr from Greenwich Village to Connecticut to Paris to Woodstock to London to Los Angeles.
They were 'beatniks, gipsies, superheroes and big mismanagers of money and opportunities' who raised him, according to one psychiatrist, like wolves.
A tattoo on one shoulder reads 'Susie Q', in tribute; the other, 'Indio', the name of his 14-year-old son.
The road to recovery really began in 2003, when Downey met his wife-to-be, the producer Susan Levin, on the set of Gothica.
With her, he said, he could enjoy monogamy for the first time: 'She was really grounded, a hard worker, and really motivated.' Most importantly, she wouldn't marry him unless he gave up drugs.
I'm standing there in my leather jacket squinting at them when I drop them off and they're like, "RDJ is watching", and they're worried, because I'm not just the square dad.
I know exactly what they're thinking, and I don't approve.' He is tickled by the irony of his words: 'Kids these days.'Whatever his own state, Downey was always keen to give his son security, having himself experienced a 'bohème pressurefest' as a child.
Family life couldn't be better: 'I'm in a happy relationship, me and my ex are on really good terms, my kid and I are in a good spot.' The ex is the singer and former model Deborah Falconer, the mother of Indio.
Downey smiles at his mention: 'If you heard the shit that comes out of my mouth while I'm driving this minivan around with my teenager and his friends.When Steven Spielberg visited Wright's set recently, Downey was taken aback, despite the 60 or so films he has made: 'I couldn't believe it.He's over by the monitors, and I'm like "Jesus Christ, there he is" and he talks to me about a couple of things, and then he leaves the set and I'm like "God darn it!After 20 years of drink, drugs, 'unthinkably surreal' debauchery and spells in prison and rehab, Robert Downey Jr seems finally to have conquered his addictions.With Hollywood's confidence in him restored, he is now carrying the 6 million blockbuster, Iron Man.If, as Downey claims now, he 'wasn't happy from the time Chaplin came out until last year', he certainly never showed it.