Robert Downey Jr. Confesses to Being Fired for Theft in Early Shoe Store Job

Exploring the lesser-known early days of Robert Downey Jr.

by Nouman Rasool
Robert Downey Jr. Confesses to Being Fired for Theft in Early Shoe Store Job
© JC Olivera/Getty Images

Before making a big splash in Hollywood, Robert Downey Jr. zigzagged his way through a series of odd jobs, ultimately getting fired from a shoe store for stealing. "The Avengers" star, known for his charismatic turns in the blockbuster franchises "Iron Man" and "Sherlock Holmes," talked candidly about his modest beginnings with Leonard Maltin at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, as reported by People.

Speaking of the period in his career when he was doing poorly, Downey Jr. said, "I worked at a sandwich shop. I worked at a shoe store, but I had sticky fingers and I got fired after two weeks." He humorously added that his theft took place before the age of close-circuit cameras that could notice every single move.

He confessed that waitering was not for him, that he lacked the flair for it, that it was "death" for him. Then he spent several years, until he found the theater, being a club worker and busboy at Thrifty's in Santa Monica.

Downey Jr.' s Cinematic Roots

Downey Jr., whose father, famed filmmaker Robert Downey Sr., died in 2021, was no stranger to the film industry. Works from his father which are quite noticeable are "Putney Swope," "Boogie Nights," "The Family Man," "To Live and Die in L.A." Downey Jr.'

s acting debut was at the age of five in "Pound" (1970), a film which was directed by his father. He landed his break-through role in "The Pick-up Artist" (1987) before a turn of his life took a darker turn of legal troubles and imprisonment.

In 1996, charges were pressed against Downey Jr., and he was arrested because of operating a vehicle under the influence, possession of heroin, cocaine, crack, and a .357 Magnum. After a 2016 pardon from California's governor, who cited his "exemplary behavior" but still said it didn't override his conviction, Downey Jr.

discussed his time in the clink on an episode of the "Armchair Expert" podcast. He described his first day in jail as being like "a sentence to a distant planet from which there is no return until the planets of the solar system come into complete conjunction.

Robert Downey Jr.