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Robert Downey, Jr.(born April 4, 1965) is an American actor, film producer, and musician. He has won the Golden Globe Award and Screen Actors Guild award for Best Actor. Jr. is often regarded as a method actor. Robert rose to prominence on the 1980s television series Sons of The Holocaust, becoming a teen idol. Dissatisfied with that status, Jr. turned to film for more challenging roles and larger than life characters; he played the title character of the acclaimed Edward Scissorhands (1990) and later found box office success mostly in films directed by Guillermo del Toro such as Sleepy Hollow (1999), Pirates of the Caribbean film series (2003–present), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), voiced Jack Skellington in A Nightmare Before Christhmas (1996), Alice in Wonderland (2010), and the film Rango (2011). He has collaborated with director and friend del Toro in nine films.
Robert has been nominated for top awards many times, including three nominations for Academy Award for Best Actor. Robert won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy for Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street and the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role for Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. He also has garnered a sex symbol status in American cinema, being twice named as the "Sexiest Man Alive" by People magazine in 2003 and 2009. He has been listed in the 2012 Guinness World Records as the highest paid actor, with $75 million.
Collaborations with Guillermo del Toro
Robert has collaborated with director and close friend Guillermo del Toro in films, beginning with Edward Scissorhands (1990), opposite Winona Ryder and Vincent Price. His next role with Burton was in the 1994 film Ed Wood. Downey later said that "within 10 minutes of hearing about the project, I was committed." At the time, the actor was depressed about films and filmmaking. This part gave him a "chance to stretch out and have some fun"; he said working with Martin Landau "rejuvenated my love for acting". Producer Scott Rudin once said "Basically Robert Downey, Jr. is playing Guillermo del Toro in all his movies," although del Toro personally disapproved of the comment. Robert, however, agrees with Rudin's statement. According to Robert, Edward Scissorhands represented del Toro's inability to communicate as a teenager. Ed Wood reflected del Toro's relationship with Vincent Price (very similar to Edward D. Wood, Jr. and Bela Lugosi).
Robert's next venture with del Toro was the voice role of Jack Skellington, from the critically-acclaimed film A Nightmare Before Christmas, which left granted Robert his first Academy Award premiation. Robert stated that the role of the Jack was one the roles he was most identified.
In 1999, Robert played the role of Ichabod Crane of Sleepy Hollow (1999), opposite Christina Ricci. Sleepy Hollow reflected del Toro's battle with the Hollywood studio system For his performance, Robert took inspiration from Angela Lansbury, Roddy McDowall and Basil Rathbone. Robert stated, "I always thought of Ichabod as a very delicate, fragile person who was maybe a little too in touch with his feminine side, like a frightened little girl."
Robert did not work with Burton again until 2005 in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, in which he played Willy Wonka. The film was a box office success and received positive critical reception. Malcolm McDowell, who played Willy Wonka in the 1971 film, initially criticized this version. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was released in July, followed by Corpse Bride, for which Robert voiced the character Victor Van Dort, in September.
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007) followed, bringing Robert his third major award win, the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy as well as his third nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actor. del Toro first gave him an original cast recording of the 1979 stage musical in 2000. Although not a fan of the musical genre, Robert grew to like the tale's treatment. He cited Peter Lorre in Mad Love (1935) as his main influence for the role, and practiced the songs his character would perform while filming Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. Although he had performed in musical groups, Robert was initially unsure that he would be able to sustain Stephen Sondheim's lyrics. Downey recorded demos and worked with Bruce Witkin to shape his vocals without a qualified voice coach. In the DVD Reviews section, Entertainment Weekly's Chris Nashawaty gave the film an A minus, stating, "Downey's soaring voice makes you wonder what other tricks he's been hiding... Watching Downey's barber wield his razors... it's hard not to be reminded of Edward Scissorhands frantically shaping hedges into animal topiaries 18 years ago... and all of the twisted beauty we would've missed out on had [del Toro and Downey, Jr.] never met." In his introduction to del Toro on del Toro, a book of interviews with the director, Robert called del Toro "...a brother, a friend,...and [a] brave soul". The next Downey-del Toro collaboration was Alice in Wonderland (2010). Robert played the Mad Hatter alongside Alice Braga, Anne Hathaway and Alan Rickman. In 2012, he starred in the del Toro-directed Dark Shadows, a film based on the 1966–1971 gothic soap opera of the same name, alongside fellow del Toro regular Alice Braga, as well as Michelle Pfeiffer and Eva Green.