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Jodie Foster told Robert Downey Jr. she was 'scared of what happens to you next' amid his addiction struggles

Jodie Foster recalled pulling Robert Downey Jr. aside and expressing her worries over his addiction struggles while on the set of the 1995 movie "Home for the Holidays."

Jodie Foster recalled telling Robert Downey Jr. she feared for his future amid his struggles with addiction in the 1990s.

During an interview with Esquire, the 61-year-old actress reflected on directing the 59-year-old actor in the 1995 Thanksgiving comedy-drama "Home for the Holidays." At the time, Downey was battling substance abuse problems that later led to multiple arrests on drug-related charges.

"I took him aside at one point during filming and said, ‘Look, I couldn’t be more grateful for what you’ve given in this film. But I’m scared of what happens to you next. Right now, you are incredibly good at balancing on the barstool. But it’s really precarious, and I’m not sure how that’s going to end,'" the two-time Oscar winner remembered.

Foster told the outlet she took a chance on casting Downey for her sophomore directorial project because she believed in his talent and his ability to overcome his addiction. 


"What was so interesting about him then was what a genius he was. There was more creativity in his little finger than I will ever have in my whole life, but he did not have the discipline," "The Silence of the Lambs" star said. 

"He was so out there that all of that wonderful talent was kind of just, like, flailing his arms in the water and making a big mess.

"But it was in there somewhere, right? Because now he is somebody who’s become disciplined almost as a way of surviving."

Foster hired Mel Gibson to star in her 2011 film "The Beaver" following his infamous 2006 DUI arrest during which he was recorded making antisemitic comments.

"I have faith in people’s ability to change if they want it, and he really wanted it," Foster said of Downey. "And Mel, too."


"Home for the Holidays" follows recently fired single mother Claudia Larson (Holly Hunter), who travels to her parents' home in Baltimore to spend Thanksgiving with her dysfunctional family. Downey played Claudia's younger brother and confidant, Tommy Larson.

After starring in "Home for the Holidays," Downey was arrested in June 1996 for possession of heroin, cocaine, crack and an unloaded gun. A year later, Downey missed a court-ordered drug test and subsequently spent five months in jail.

He was arrested again in 1999 after skipping another drug test. Downey was sentenced to three years in federal prison for violating his probation and served 15 months before he was released. 


During the height of his addiction, Downey lost multiple projects because bond companies would not insure him. Following further arrests, Downey was fired from the show "Ally McBeal" in 2001 despite being credited with reviving the series' ratings and winning a Golden Globe Award for his performance.

The New York native became an outcast in Hollywood and was deemed "unhirable" by studios. After a string of rehab stints and relapses, Downey became sober in 2003 and has remained so ever since. In 2016, he was pardoned for his 1996 drug conviction.

In a 2023 interview with The New Yorker, former Marvel Studios President David Maisel recalled the challenges he experienced while convincing Marvel's board to cast Downey as Tony Stark in 2008's "Iron Man."

"My board thought I was crazy to put the future of the company in the hands of an addict," Maisel said. "I helped them understand how great he was for the role. We all had confidence that he was clean and would stay clean." 

Tony Stark became Downey's seminal role, and the success of "Iron Man" paved the way for the billion-dollar Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise.

Downey most recently starred in Christopher Nolan's Academy Award-winning 2023 biopic thriller "Oppenheimer." The actor received a Golden Globe Award, a BAFTA Award, a SAG Award and an Academy Award for best supporting actor for his performance.

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