A few years back everyone was going crazy with the "re-discovery" of Johnny Depp -- just because the longtime performer scored a hit with a big-budget blockbuster. But movie geeks who grew up in the '80s and '90s were left a little bit confused by all the buzz. "Uh," we mused, "Johnny Depp's been kicking ass for over two decades now, and it takes the BOX OFFICE to tell us he's so cool??" And this summer it's Mr. Robert Downey Jr. After his powerful one-two punch of Iron Man and Tropic Thunder (and the Oscar-friendly The Soloist right around the corner), everyone seems to be falling all over the actor.
Granted, the actor's unpleasant history with drugs and prison certainly makes for a great "comeback" tale, and Downey really deserves it ... but even at his lowest and most drug-addled moments, this guy was delivering very good performances. I'll skip the obvious ones of Less Than Zero (his breakout) and Chaplin (his Oscar nom), but just to remind you that there was a lot of life before Tony Stark and Kirk Lazarus, I offer you seven of my very favorite Robert Downey Jr. performances.
Weird Science (1985) -- I distinctly remember seeing this movie during its theatrical run, and during the scene in which Downey dumps a slushee onto the heads of our heroes, I thought "This actor plays a really good jerkface." Little did I know I was watching the future Iron Man bully nerds -- plus his character was the one who recommended that "virtual girl" Kelly LeBrock receive "larger breasts," although that's not a direct quote from the film. (Bonus performance: Bill Paxton as ANOTHER big jerk.)