In April 2001, while he was on parole, a Los Angeles police officer found him wandering barefoot in Culver City, just outside Los Angeles.
That same year, Downey had a dramatic acting breakthrough when he played James Spader's sidekick in Tuff Turf and then a bully in John Hughes' Weird Science.
Despite Downey's lawyer, John Stewart Holden, assembling for his client's 1999 defense the same team of lawyers that successfully defended O. Simpson during his criminal trial for murder, Downey was sentenced to a three-year prison term at the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison in Corcoran, California (a.k.a. At the time of the 1999 arrest, all of Downey's film projects had wrapped and were close to release, with the exception of In Dreams, which he was allowed to complete filming.
He had also been hired for voicing the devil on the NBC animated television series God, the Devil and Bob, but was fired when he failed to show up for rehearsals.
He starred as the title character in the 1992 film Chaplin, which earned him a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actor and won him the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role.
After being released in 2000 from the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison where he was on drug charges, Downey joined the cast of the TV series Ally Mc Beal playing Calista Flockhart's love interest. His character was written out when Downey was fired after two drug arrests in late 2000 and early 2001.