Jodie Foster Recalls Telling Robert Downey Jr. She Was ‘Scared’ During Peak Of His Addiction

Downey was famously arrested on drug and weapon charges in 1996 and was sentenced to three years in prison in 1999 for violating his parole.

Jodie Foster still remembers working with Robert Downey Jr. at the height of his addictions.

The Oscar winner happily directed Downey in “Home for the Holidays” (1995), but had to have an honest chat about his substance abuse while filming at the time. Downey landed drug and weapons charges in 1996 — and was sentenced to three years in 1999.

“I took him aside at one point during filming and said, ‘Look, I couldn’t be more grateful for what you’ve given in this film,’” Foster told Esquire for an in-depth profile on Downey published Monday. “‘But I’m scared of what happens to you next.’”

“‘Right now you are incredibly good at balancing on the barstool,’” she purportedly continued telling Downey during production. “‘But it’s really precarious, and I’m not sure how that’s going to end.’”

Downey shared his own version of events in 2020 and told David Letterman that Foster “was really critical” during production and told him: “Well, looks like you’re getting away with it on this one! I wouldn’t try this again, because we’re kind of a forgiving group.”

“I was like, ‘Wasn’t that last take great?’ and she goes, ‘Yeah, you’re great, it’s going great,’” he continued at the time. “And then when I was locked up in a penitentiary, she sent me a letter saying, ‘Let me tell you what I meant by ‘It’s going great.’”

The “Iron Man” star was reportedly sent to North Kern State Prison for violating his parole several times and admitted on the “Armchair Expert” podcast that it was “the most dangerous place” he’d ever been. Downey went on to serve 15 months behind bars.

“He was so out there that all of that wonderful talent was … flailing his arms in the water and making a big mess,” Foster told Esquire. “But it was in there somewhere, right? Because now he is somebody who’s become disciplined almost as a way of surviving.”

Foster and Downey shared a hug at the 81st Golden Globe Awards earlier this year.
Foster and Downey shared a hug at the 81st Golden Globe Awards earlier this year.
Todd Williamson/CBS/Getty Images

Foster has been famously forgiving and even defended Mel Gibson as the “nicest person” to work with after his racist outburst became public. While she later agreed that Downey shared “the gist” of their 1995 chat, Foster said she wasn’t as “critical” as he claimed.

“I love Rob, and we’ve continued to be friends … I’m so proud of him for everything that he is, always was and that he continues to be,” she told HuffPost in 2020. “He’s just a wonderful man. He’s kind … He has this crazy mind. He’s just an amazing person.”

The cycle of forgiveness between Foster, Downey and Gibson has certainly sustained the trio for decades, as Downey told Esquire that Gibson helped him during his lengthy drug abuse — and Downey famously urged his peers to forgive Gibson himself in 2011.

While any defense of Gibson’s horrific tirade remains contentious to this day, Foster had no question about supporting Downey amidst his addictions, and explained Monday: “I have faith in people’s ability to change if they want it, and he really wanted it.”

Need help with substance use disorder or mental health issues? In the U.S., call 800-662-HELP (4357) for the SAMHSA National Helpline.

Popular in the Community


What's Hot