finding your roots

Robert Downey, Jr.

Robert Downey, Jr.Robert Downey, Jr., a two-time Academy Award® nominee, earned his most recent Oscar® nomination, for Best Supporting Actor, for his work in Ben Stiller’s comedy hit “Tropic Thunder.”  His performance as Kirk Lazarus, a white Australian actor playing a black American character, also brought him Golden Globe, BAFTA Award and Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award® nominations.  Downey was honored with his first Oscar® nomination, in the category of Best Actor, for his portrayal of Charlie Chaplin in Richard Attenborough’s acclaimed 1992 biopic “Chaplin,” for which he also won BAFTA Award and London Film Critics Awards and received a Golden Globe Award nomination.

In early 2010, Downey received another Golden Globe nomination for his performance in the title role of the 2009 hit “Sherlock Holmes,” under the direction of Guy Ritchie. In December 2011, Downey teamed up with Ritchie and co-star Jude Law to return to the role of the legendary detective in the sequel “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.”

Downey starred alongside Zach Galifianakis in Todd Phillips’ “Due Date” released in late 2010. In the Warner Bros. film, Downey plays the role of an expectant father on a road trip racing to get back in time for the birth of his first child.

Additionally in 2010, Downey and his producer/wife, Susan Downey, launched production company, Team Downey, which has a first look deal with Warner Bros.

Downey was honored by Time Magazine’s “Time 100” in 2008, an annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world.

In summer 2008, Downey received praise from critics and audiences for his performance in the title role of the blockbuster hit “Iron Man,” under the direction of Jon Favreau.  Bringing the Marvel Comics superhero to the big screen, “Iron Man” earned more than $585 million worldwide, making it one of the year’s biggest hits.  Downey reprised his role in the successful sequel, which was released this past spring.  He returns to the role in Josh Whedon’s upcoming actioner “The Avengers,” which teams Iron Man with other Marvel Comics superheroes out in May 2012.

Downey’s other recent films include “The Soloist,” opposite Jamie Foxx; “Charlie Bartlett”; David Fincher’s “Zodiac,” alongside Jake Gyllenhaal and Mark Ruffalo; Richard Linklater’s “A Scanner Darkly,” with Keanu Reeves, Winona Ryder and Woody Harrelson; “Fur,” opposite Nicole Kidman in a film inspired by the life of revered photographer Diane Arbus; and “Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang.”  He also shared in a SAG Award® nomination as a member of the ensemble cast of George Clooney’s true-life drama “Good Night, and Good Luck,” and in a Special Jury Prize won by the ensemble cast of “A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints,” presented at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival.

Downey’s long list of film credits also includes “Gothika”; “The Singing Detective”; Curtis Hanson’s “Wonder Boys”; “U.S. Marshals”; Mike Figgis’ “One Night Stand”; Jodie Foster’s “Home for the Holidays”; “Richard III”; Oliver Stone’s “Natural Born Killers”; Robert Altman’s “The Gingerbread Man” and “Short Cuts,” sharing in a Golden Globe Award for Best Ensemble for the latter; “Heart and Souls,” “Soapdish,” “Air America,” “Chances Are,” “True Believer,” “Less Than Zero,” “Weird Science,” “Firstborn,” and “Pound,” in which he made his debut under the direction of Robert Downey Sr.

Marking his debut into music, Debuting Robert Downey Jr. released his debut album titled “The Futurist” on the Sony Classics Label on November 23rd, 2004.   The album’s eight original songs that Downey wrote and his two musical numbers debuting as cover songs revealed his sultry singing voice and his musical talents.

In 2001, Downey made his primetime television debut when he joined the cast of the Fox-TV series “Ally McBeal,” as attorney Larry Paul.  For this role, he won the Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television, as well as the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male in a Comedy Series.  In addition, Downey was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series.

Watch the full Finding Your Roots episode: Robert Downey, Jr. and Maggie Gyllenhaal.

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About the Series

The basic drive to discover who we are and where we come from is at the core of the new 10-part PBS series Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the 12th series from Professor Gates, the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University and director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research. Filmed on location across the United States, the series premieres nationally Sundays, March 25 – May 20 at 8 pm ET on PBS (check local listings).

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