The ‘Avengers’ star is a great case study for anyone launching a new venture or attempting a midlife comeback.
The record-shattering opening success of The Avengers, which sold more than $200 million in theatre tickets in the United States and did about $640 million in business worldwide during opening weekend, is further evidence of an amazing fact: Robert Downey, Jr. not only rules Hollywood, but he’s staged an even more impressive turnaround than General Motors.
Consider this: Since 2008, nine movies featuring the 47-year-old actor have grossed more than $1.5 billion in the U.S. alone, and his name on the marquee is perhaps the surest guarantee of a box-office smash. That’s an astonishing run, especially because it wasn’t that long ago — 2001, to be precise — that Downey seemed destined to become fodder for those “Whatever Happened To…?” articles in the supermarket tabloids. His drug addiction and erratic behavior earned him a prison stay and led producer David E. Kelley to fire him from what seemed like his last chance for resurrecting his career, a supporting role in the hit TV series Ally McBeal. Downey sank so low that despite his enormous talent, he was virtually unemployable.
But that was then. Today, if Robert Downey, Jr. was a company, he might be leading the Dow Jones index. It’s not just that he revived his career; he’s actually far bigger than he was at the apex of his youthful climb to stardom 20 years ago, when he earned an Oscar nomination for best actor in the critically acclaimed box office flop Chaplin. That makes Downey’s self-reinvention a great case study for anyone who’s attempting a midlife second act — whether you’re an entrepreneur starting a new business, or someone who is struggling at 40 or beyond to overcome past mistakes.
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