Downey has a long history of problems with drugs and the law, including repeated arrests in 1996.
In June 1996, he was pulled over by police in Malibu for speeding. They found him under the influence, with a gun, cocaine and heroin in the truck.
Then in July, the then-31-year-old actor turned up in the house of a neighbor, passed out in a spare bedroom. At the time, he had just completed the film “One Night Stand,” portraying a character dying from AIDS.
“It’s like I’ve got a shotgun in my mouth, my finger on the trigger and I like the taste of gun metal,” Downey told a Los Angeles judge in 1999, as he was sentenced to three years in state prison. He was released one year later, and three months after that, was arrested in a Palm Springs hotel room where cocaine also was found.
He bounced between jail and rehabilitation clinics for several years, but then remarried and, in 2008, rekindled his acting career in the role of Tony Stark and “Iron Man” in a series of Marvel films.
In total, the actor served 15 months behind bars, and in 2002, he completed his parole.
Downey obtained an order on Oct. 20 from a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge, finding that he has since “lived an honest and upright life, exhibited good moral character, and conducted himself as a law-abiding citizen.”
On Oct. 28, Brown inducted Downey into the California Hall of Fame, alongside Charlie Brown cartoonist Charles M. Schulz and country music legend Buck Owens.
The Christmas Eve pardon reads, “By completion of his sentence and good conduct in the community of his residence since his release, Robert John Downey, Jr. has paid his debt to society and earned a full and unconditional pardon.”