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Robert Downey Jr.

It's easy to forget that before he was "Iron Man," Robert Downey Jr. was considered as big a mess (if less in-your-face about it) as Charlie Sheen was in 2010-11. For five years beginning in 1996, the Downey (pictured on April 28 in NYC) was frequently arrested for drug-related charges, spent a year in prison and lost many acting gigs because of his addiction. Most famously, he was fired from his recurring role on TV's "Ally McBeal" after being arrested in November 2000 and again in April 2001. But in 2003, Downey achieved lasting sobriety and slowly built his career -- and his personal life -- back. RDJ married producer Susan Levin in 2005 and that same year won over audiences with his turn in "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang." He solidified his status as one of the most sought-after actors in Hollywood with the summer 2008 one-two punch of "Iron Man" and "Tropic Thunder" (for which he earned an Oscar nomination). With the highly lucrative "Sherlock Holmes" franchise following in 2009, it's no wonder that Downey declared in 2010: "This is just the sweet spot of my career and my life so far." We have to imagine it's probably a little sweeter now that he and his wife welcomed a son, Exton, in February -- and "The Avengers" has raked in $600 million domestically to become the No. 3-grossing film of all time.

(CREDIT: Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images)
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The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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