Young Robert Downey, Jr: 6 of his early movies from the ’80s

Note: This article may feature affiliate links, and purchases made may earn us a commission at no extra cost to you. Find out more here.

Robert Downey Jr in Less Than Zero - 1987

Note: This article may feature affiliate links to Amazon or other companies, and purchases made via these links may earn us a small commission at no additional cost to you. Find out more here.

Back in the late ’80s, who would have thought that the kid who acted in a few random films would, a couple of decades later, be one of America’s biggest movie stars?

Of course, Robert Downey, Jr has since gone on to play the lead in several films, including the title characters in both Sherlock Holmes and Iron Man.

5-year-old Robert Downey, Jr in “Pound” (1970)

Here’s his very first role, in the movie “Pound,” a movie written and directed by his dad, Robert Downey, Sr. He played a puppy, in an animal shelter full of animals… all played by humans.

5-year-old Robert Downey, Jr in Pound (1970)


1. Young Robert Downey Jr in Weird Science (1985)

This movie starred Anthony Michael Hall (Gary Wallace), Kelly LeBrock (Lisa), Ilan Mitchell-Smith (Wyatt Donnelly), Bill Paxton (Chet Donnelly) and Robert Downey (Ian)

Young Robert Downey Jr in Weird Science (1985)

ALSO SEE: Sixteen covers of 16 magazine from the ’80s


2. Young Robert Downey, Jr in The Pick-Up Artist (1987)

This movie starred Molly Ringwald (Randy Jensen) and Robert Downey (Jack Jericho)

Molly Ringwald and Robert Downey Jr in The Pick-up Artist (1987)

MORE: Why “Breakfast Club” was much more than just another teen comedy (1985)


3. Robert Downey, Jr in “Less Than Zero” (1987)

This movie starred Robert Downey Jr. (Julian), Andrew McCarthy (Clay), Jami Gertz (Blair), and James Spader (Rip)

Faces to watch: Robert Downey, Jr

Article from Splice magazine (January 1988)

“Everything changes my ideas about acting,” admits 22-year-old Robert Downey, Jr. “I feel like I’m raking up a lawn wherever I go, and I’m just now starting to get a pile together. Maybe a wind will come along and blow it all away.”

Currently starring in the film version of the bleak 1985 bestseller Less Than Zero, with Andrew McCarthy and Jami Gertz, the handsome ex-Saturday Night Live star has no reason to worry about the pile of movie credits that he’s accumulated.

Besides The Pick-Up Artist with Molly Ringwald, Robert has two other projects lined up for release in early ’88: Johnny Be Good, with Anthony Michael Hall, and Rented Lips, with Martin Mull and Jennifer Tilly.

Despite its glitzy wrapping, Less Than Zero seems far from the usual upbeat, mindless teen fare. It deals with the lifestyles of the rich, young, and burned-out of Beverly Hills.

“We just wanted to make it as hard core as possible,” Robert tells SPLICE. “I think we just tried to make it not quite as dark as the book.

“We show the other side of these people: their laughter, enjoyment, and satisfaction. I think without that, it would just be an hour and a half of somber depression.”

robert downey jr profile jan 1988


4. Young Robert Downey, Jr in Johnny Be Good (1988)

Anthony Michael Hall (Johnny Walker), Robert Downey Jr. (Leo Wiggins) and Uma Thurman (Georgia Elkans)

1988 movie Johnny Be Good with Anthony Michael Hall - Uma Thurman - Robert Downey


5. Robert Downey, Jr in 1969 (1988)

“1969,” a Vietnam-era coming-of-age film, starred Robert Downey Jr. (Ralph Carr), Kiefer Sutherland (Scott) and Winona Ryder (Beth)

1969 movie - Kiefer Sutherland and Robert Downey Jr

NOW SEE THIS: Vampires punk out in tongue-in-cheek movie ‘Lost Boys’ (1987)


Young Robert Downey, Jr’s high school yearbook photo

This is from 1982, during his time at Santa Monica High School

Celebrity yearbook photos - Robert Downey Jr

… and, finally, what the man himself would probably think of this article

Robert Downey Jr eyeroll

ALSO SEE: ‘The Outsiders’ classic ’80s movie: About the story & cast, plus see the trailer

If you liked this, please share it! Our small business appreciates it. :-) You can also get our free newsletter, follow us on Facebook & Pinterest, plus see exclusive retro-inspired products in our shop. Thanks for visiting!

More stories you might like

Because the fun never ends

Comments on this story

Leave a comment here!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Choose your next adventure