Today's generation will obviously know Robert Downey Jr. as the star of recent box office smashes Iron Man, Sherlock Holmes and of course, Iron Man 2. Today's generation will obviously know the man as a sharp-witted, hilarious individual and incredibly good actor who immerses himself in his roles so deeply that the audience has no choice but to believe everything they see from the man.
But older film lovers already know that the 45-year-old star hasn't just come out of nowhere to take the movie industry by storm. He was essentially born into acting, given that his father Robert Downey Sr. was a renowned film maker back in the day. He's been starring in movies since he was a child, and he's been battling horrific drug problems for nearly all his life. One could say he was once famous for being incarcerated again and again (after reading this book, I can unfortunately see why.)
But now that he's finally broken through to becoming a household name, the time is only right that Mr Downey finally have his life story chronicled. However, The Fall And Rise Of The Comeback Kid isn't an autobiography written by the man himself. While on the one hand, this is disappointing, on the other it is understandable given the man's phenomenal ascension to superstardom, and this biography has been handled very well indeed by journalist Ben Falk.
So how exactly has Mr Falk fared, chronicling a man who is so complex, gifted, and has nearly self-destructed too many times? Well, the writer is clearly a fan (and makes it no secret in the introduction), and it's because of his adulation for Downey, that Falk has taken this project very seriously. Falk has clearly done his homework, providing the reader with plentiful quotes, stories and anecdotes from famous publications, celebrities, friends, families, associates and anonymous sources to back up the facts presented. Falk also masterfully stays clear from going into `fan boy' mode. He writes a very impartial view of Downey's career, works and life, citing the bad equally as well as the good. His narrative is concise when it needs to be, and it goes into fuller details when more major events are chronicled.
Robert Downey Junior's life story itself...will naturally be viewed as shocking to today's fans who'd never heard of him before Iron Man and Sherlock Holmes. `The Fall And Rise' is a very accurate assessment of the man's tumultuous journey. Drug addiction (sadly) is nothing new, and we all know the damage it can to a person's life. Nevertheless, it is still a shocking, dispiriting and frightening revelation for the reader, when they discover just what Robert's drug-induced behaviour led him to do and what it cost him. It's another painful reminder of the evils of drugs, and it's absolutely sickening to read of how his relationship with his father almost circled entirely around illegal substances.
But whilst the younger Robert's story is shocking, it is equally enthralling, particularly when Ben Falk focuses and underlines the actor's more creative aspects and appealing qualities. To read of his writings, improvisations and rehearsals (especially for things like Chaplin) was something I found remarkable. Needless to say, it was heart-warming to read of Downey's endearing human traits, such as his love for his son Indio, how he has been able to mend bridges with his family and ex-spouses, and the accounts of his friends, fellow actors and various film crews he's worked with, all citing him as a genuine decent person at heart. And you can truly believe it here, which makes the tale all the more gratifying, knowing that through so many trials and tribulations, the man was able to turn his life around in the biggest way imaginable.
Those who enjoyed Iron Man and Sherlock Holmes will naturally be intrigued by this book, and if they're considering a purchase, I would recommend it entirely. Thanks to great research, an enthusiastic writer and a most fascinating subject indeed, The Fall And Rise Of The Comeback Kid is an excellent account of Robert Downey Jr. Complete with great photos and an insightful flexography, it's a cracking read. Again, I would've loved it more to have read the story from Robert himself, but Ben Falk has done the man justice. Long time fans will appreciate this chronicling as well. Everyone else...take a look!