In 1996, Robert Downey Jr., son of Robert Downey Sr., was still riding high on the success of his Charlie Chaplin biopic, Chaplin. He was riding high on other things, too, like cocaine and pain pills. He was even once reportedly found in the bed of his neighbor’s child, snoring loudly. And then he went to prison several times for riding so high, and people forgot about the fact that he could even act.
It was a rough period for the actor, one that seems improbable when placed next to his current fame and place in the Avengers franchise. So, he’s probably pretty happy that today California Governor Jerry Brown pardoned him of that conviction. It’s an act of kindness, yeah, but not an entirely random one: the Christmas Eve pardon is a kind of tradition. More than 90 folks were cleared of their nonviolent crimes this year. Maybe one of them will be the next Marvel superhero.