ByKarly Rayner, writer at
Movie Pilot's celebrity savant
Karly Rayner

We are all familiar with stories of celebrities falling foul to addiction or illness and never regaining the critical acclaim or popularity that they once had, but these five stars have bucked the trend and risen from the ashes of their careers.

These inspirational tales from some of Hollywood's most recognizable stars are proof that moments of weakness, deep sadness or feeling hopeless need not govern the rest of your life. If they can do it, you can too.

Robert Downey Jr.

What happened to them? As a child Robert Downey Jr. grew up "surrounded by drugs" and they fact that they were so normalized to him in his youth seeped into his professional career.

After doing drugs with his father as a young teenager, Downey Jr. gained critical acclaim with '80s movies such as Less Than Zero. In this role, the young actor played a drug-addicted rich boy, but he described the movie as "the ghost of Christmas Future" since his drug habit resulted in his becoming an "exaggeration of the character" in real life.

Between 1996 and 2001, Downey Jr's drug habit spiralled out of control and he was arrested numerous times for drug possession and even spent a stint in jail. He entered drug rehab many times, but after he relapsed over and over again, many suspected this once brilliant actor's career might be over.

How did they recover? Robert Downey Jr. claims that hitting rock bottom enabled him finally pick up the pieces of his life and become sober and driven once more. He explained to Oprah that after he realized he might face another spell in jail, he thought:

You know what? I don't think I can continue doing this.' And I reached out for help, and I ran with it. You can reach out for help in kind of a half-assed way and you'll get it and you won't take advantage of it. It's not that difficult to overcome these seemingly ghastly problems...what's hard is to decide to do it

Since then, we all know how Downy Jr. has picked up lucrative roles in Zodiac, Tropic Thunder and achieved the ultimate goal of becoming Iron Man.

Drew Barrymore

What happened to them? Barrymore was dragged through a notoriously turbulent childhood by her mother Jaid, who was a struggling actress and her father John, an alcoholic actor.

Drew was a regular at the notorious Studio 54 when she was just nine years old and began drinking alcohol when she was 11, smoking marijuana at the age of twelve and taking cocaine at the age of thirteen.

The young actress entered rehab when she was 13 and was readmitted after a suicide attempt at just 14 years old.

How did they recover? After she was legally emacipated from her parents, Drew got a job at a coffee shop, but she became desperate to get back into acting to prove she wasn't "a has been at 14."

Barrymore played a few dud roles before landing more recognizable roles in The Wedding Singer and Charlie's Angels. She also owns her own film producing company and was responsible for helping to fund the cult-classic Donnie Darko.

Mickey Rourke

What happened to them? The eccentric Mickey Rourke has lurched between acting and boxing multiple times throughout his career and managed to develop a heroin addiction in between.

After making a name for himself in movies such as 9½ Weeks, Barfly and Angel Heart, Directors became reluctant to work with Rourke because, in the words of Alan Parker

Working with Mickey is a nightmare. He is very dangerous on the set because you never know what he is going to do

Rourke himself admitted in 2009 that:

I stupidly said acting wasn't a job for a real man. I threatened producers, raged at directors, forgot my agent's name. I really burned my bridges.

How did they recover? Rourke damaged his face during his boxing career and had botched plastic surgery, but it was his battle worn look and sobriety that got him back into the mainstream movies.

In 2005 Rourke took his new look into the mainstream in Sin City, but the highlight of his comeback was definitely 2009's The Wrestler which won him a Golden Globe, a BAFTA and an Oscar nomination.

Owen Wilson

What happened to them? Although Owen Wilson has not suffered from a catastrophic career breakdown, the likeable actor was so overwhelmed with depression in 2007 that he attempted to kill himself by simultaneously overdosing on pills and slitting his wrists. He was discovered in a confused state by his brother, Luke at the scene.

How did they recover? After asking the media to respect his privacy after the suicide attempt, Wilson dropped out of his upcoming movie Tropic Thunder to recover.

He has never spoken out about the attempt he made on his own life since, but he went on to lang major roles in Marley & Me, Hall Pass and The Grand Budapest Hotel.

Zoë Kravitz

What happened to them? While she was a teenager, Zoë Kravitz was plagued by an eating disorder and, in her own words:

I had a really hard time when I was 16, 17, 18. I started with the eating disorder in high school. I just [had a hard time] loving myself.

These symptoms flared up again when Kravitz bravely (but probably unwisely) accepted the role of an anorexic patient in The Road Within, she explained:

It was fucked up, man. You could see my rib cage. I was just trying to lose more weight for the film but I couldn’t see: you’re there. Stop. It was scary.

I don’t think it was about the fame, but I think it was definitely about being around that world, seeing that world. I felt pressured.

How did they recover? Zoë credits her Lolawolf bandmates for helping her through the rough times explaining:

[they] kept me company, and kept me sane

She also says that doing The Road Within, although deeply painful, was a cathartic process that helped her to accept herself, she told Complex that:

It made me not only confront my demons, but also realize and accept an insecurity that’s still there, and [that it’s] easy to fall back into that pattern. I feel like something has left my body, like some part of me is gone now, something that was making me so insecure. And it feels amazing.

Read more about Zoë's struggle HERE.

(Source: Hitfix, Mental Health Daily, Wikipedia (2) (3) (4))


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