Beginning in 2008, Downey began portraying the role of Marvel Comics superhero Iron Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, appearing in several films as either the lead role, member of an ensemble cast, or in a cameo. domestic box-office grosses of Downey Jr.'s films total over US $4.2 billion, with worldwide grosses surpassing $9.6 billion, making Downey Jr. Downey later stated that drug use became an emotional bond between him and his father: "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." Eventually, Downey began spending every night abusing alcohol and "making a thousand phone calls in pursuit of drugs".Each of these films, with the exception of The Incredible Hulk, has grossed over $500 million at the box office worldwide; four of these—The Avengers, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Iron Man 3 and Captain America: Civil War—earned over $1 billion. has also played the title character in Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes (2009), which earned him his second Golden Globe win, and its sequel (2011), both of which have earned over $500 million at the box office worldwide. During his childhood, Downey had minor roles in his father's films.
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Downey began building upon theater roles, including in the short-lived off-Broadway musical American Passion at the Joyce Theater in 1983, produced by Norman Lear.
A month later, while on parole, he trespassed into a neighbor's home while under the influence of a controlled substance, and fell asleep in one of the beds.