This post discusses alcohol and drug addiction and may be triggering for some readers.
Robert Downey Jr was just six years old when he first tried marijuana.
"[I told him], 'You ought to try a little of this instead of drinking,'" Robert Downey Sr, a film director, recalled.
"I passed him a joint. And suddenly I knew I had made a terrible, stupid mistake... giving a little kid a toke of grass just to be funny."
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Born in New York City to underground filmmaker Robert Downey Sr and actress Elsie Downey, Downey Jr was "constantly surrounded by drugs" as a child.
"There was a lot of pot and coke around," the actor shared, as per PEOPLE.
"When my dad and I would do drugs together, it was like him trying to express his love for me in the only way he knew how."
After he tried marijuana for the first time at a party, Downey Jr's drug use spiralled throughout his teenage years and early twenties, leading him to "spend every night out getting drunk [and] making a thousand phone calls in pursuit of drugs".
Growing up in New York City, Downey Jr began his acting career with a few minor roles in his father's films, before attending the Stagedoor Manor Performing Arts Training Center.
After a brief relocation to California following his parents' divorce in 1978, Downey Jr dropped out of high school and moved back to New York in 1982 to pursue acting full time.
In 1985, Downey Jr had his first big breakthrough when he was hired by Saturday Night Live. The actor was introduced as part of the show's new, younger cast, but after a year of poor ratings and a claim from Rolling Stone that Downey Jr was the worst SNL cast member ever, he was dropped from the show.
Shortly before landing a role on SNL, Downey Jr began dating Sarah Jessica Parker, who he met on the set of Firstborn in 1984.