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Robert Downey Jr. Admits Shoe Store Once Fired Him for Having ‘Sticky Fingers’

Robert Downey Jr. Admits Shoe Store Once Fired Him for Having ‘Sticky Fingers’

Actors will sometimes hold different jobs while working their way into show business, which is how Robert Downey Jr once found himself working at a shoe store. The Iron Man actor, who has been receiving rave reviews for working in Oppenheimer, talked about this time in his life last weekend.

“Well, I worked at a sandwich shop,” Downey said during an interview with film critic Leonard Maltin last Friday. Downey received the Maltin Modern Master Award, named after Maltin, at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.

“I worked at a shoe store, but I had sticky fingers and I got fired after two weeks,” the Oppenheimer star admitted. “This is before those close-circuit cameras where they monitor who might be sitting. … I was not very good at it.”

“And I worked in clubs and I worked at Thrifty’s in Santa Monica,” he added. “I made it to busboy, but I didn’t really have the panache to be a waiter, I was told, so I had to resort to theater.”

Robert Downey Jr.’s First Movie Was With His Father

Maltin, who has an encyclopedic mind when it comes to the movie industry, reminded Robert Downey Jr. that he first hit the big screen while working for his father. He was just 5 years old when his father was making a 1970 movie titled Pound. Downey’s father was director Robert Downey Sr., who was 85 when he died in 2021. Of course, this was decades before Downey began starring in films in the 1980s.  

Is Robert Downey Jr happy with his decision to work in theater? “Yeah, I think this is what I was supposed to do,” he said. But the movie critic asked Downey if he felt that there was a touch of “destiny” in his career path.

Downey’s award was named after Maltin, which was first presented in 1995. It is given out “to honor an individual who has enriched our culture through accomplishments in the motion picture industry.”

Also showing up at last Friday’s ceremony was Downey’s friend Rob Lowe and Cillian Murphy, who is co-starring with Downey in Oppenheimer.

During their interview, Maltin talked with Robert Downey Jr. about a few of his pictures. He focused on the ones where he received an Oscar nomination. These films include Chaplin from 1992, Tropic Thunder from 2008, and playing Lewis Strauss in Oppenheimer.

RDJ Praises ‘Oppenheimer’ Costar Cillian Murphy

“Cillian is straight man to no one,” Downey said. “He is just, I think, beginning to understand by the reaction he gets when he comes to places that he’s a f—ing force of nature.”

Robert Downey Jr also is pretty humble when it comes to his career. At one point in his younger days, Downey was a cast member on Saturday Night Live in the 1980s. Many Downey fans also know that the actor had lots of trouble involving drugs and arrests.

All of that, though, is in his past. Robert Downey Jr has been sober for a good stretch of time. His improved work has definitely made the film community stand up and take notice. Finding himself in a position to receive an honor from someone like Maltin is a good thing.

For years, Maltin was the movie critic for Entertainment Tonight between 1982 and 2010. He still keeps up with the movie industry, thanks to his website Leonard Maltin’s Movie Crazy, and an occasional Instagram Live video.

There are those Downey fans who also are fond of him playing Tony Stark in Iron Man movies. While that part of his life produced solid work, Marvel Studios says they don’t have plans for him to come back. That’s sad because Robert Downey Jr worked well with the other MCU stars in different movies.