Hollywood Success Stories: 7 Actors Who Worked Their Way Back to the Top

Tony Stark, Iron Man 3, Robert Downey Jr

Happy endings aren’t just for the big screen. It also happens in real life.

These seven actors started their careers at the top of their game. However, their excellent acting was quickly overshadowed by substance abuse and poor film choices, which threatened to destroy their careers. Rather than fall by the Hollywood wayside, these seven stars fought their way back to the top.

1. Robert Downey Jr.

Downey Jr. quickly made a name for himself in the ‘80s for films such as Back to School, Less Than Zero, and The Pick-up Artist. However, his thriving career took a toll as he struggled with alcohol and drug addiction, which eventually landed him in jail several times. Those arrests cost him several movie and TV roles, including a spot in Fox’s Ally McBeal in 2001, per Business Insider. Soon, many in Hollywood had decided the talented actor was no longer worth hiring.

But he didn’t let it ruin his career. He checked into rehab in 2003 and came back determined to fight his way back to the top. “Smoking dope and smoking coke, you are rendered defenseless. The only way out of that hopeless state is intervention,” Downey Jr. told the Daily News.

He found his way out, and came back determined to make a name for himself. Downey Jr. went on to appear in lead roles in many blockbuster hits, including Tropic Thunder, Iron Man, Sherlock Holmes, and The Avengers. In 2013, Forbes listed Downey Jr. as one of Hollywood’s highest paid actors, bringing in an estimated $75 million in earnings between June 2012 and June 2013.