How Robert Downey Jr. Impacted Wes Bentley's Life Amidst His Struggle With Drug Addiction

From left to right: Wes Bentley in an interview about Yellowstone and Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark in Avengers: Age of Ultron.
(Image credit: Yellowstone YouTube Channel and Marvel)

Wes Bentley, who is currently starring in the hit series Yellowstone, recently opened up about his struggles with drug addiction. The actor talked about his heroin addiction in the late 2000s, and explained why Robert Downey Jr. inspired him to start the process of recovery.

The actor explained to Page Six at the Yellowstone Season 5 premiere, that he really struggled with his addiction to heroin, and seeing Downey Jr. publicly talk about his own journey with addiction helped him. Bentley said: 

I was in the deepest throes of my addiction and in the worst place and at death’s door, I guess, or at risk of it and I saw him be so bold and brave and open and it saved me.

In the article, Bentley explained that his addiction began right after wrapping the acclaimed film American Beauty in 1999. He said that he had never really had money before, and he was dealing with a lot of things he “wasn't prepared for. This led him down a dangerous path. The Hunger Games star has been sober since 2009, and elaborated on how RDJ inspired him, saying: 

So I thought if I do that too, I can maybe pass that on to somebody else.

Downey Jr. has been sober since 2003, and has been very open about his journey with addiction. In his new documentary Sr., which comes out on Netflix later this year, he gives an intimate look into his relationship with his father and how both struggled with drug addiction. The Iron Man actor has also been supportive of those who struggle with addiction, for example, he may have been involved in helping Armie Hammer pay for rehab.

Bentley has also been quite open about his journey. He told NYT in 2010 that drugs and alcohol were a way for him to deal with the fame that he wasn’t ready for. In the article he talked about how bad his addiction got, saying he would spend days in drug dens, and between 2002 and 2009 he took roles just to pay bills and buy drugs. 

In the article from 2010, Bentley described the moment he realized he needed help, saying: 

I had come back to L.A. for something, and I drank a whole bottle of Scotch, and I thought to myself, ‘I’m going to die in this hotel room with this bottle of Scotch’ It was after that I told a friend for the first time: ‘I’m a drug addict, and an alcoholic, and I need help. I need help or I’m going to die.’

He said 12-step meetings have helped him a lot, he also said he feels “lucky” to have gotten a second chance. 

Since 2009, Bentley’s career has flourished, he was part of the Hunger Games cast, has starred in many movies, including Interstellar and Mission: Impossible - Fallout. Recently, he has also been on multiple TV shows including American Horror Story, Blade Runner: Black Lotus, and his role as Jamie Dutton on Yellowstone, which is such a successful show it has its own expanding universe. This trajectory is comparable to Downey Jr.’s in a way because he too struggled for a while, but after booking Iron Man he became not only a beloved actor but one of the most profitable actors in the business

Bentley was clearly inspired by Downey Jr.’s journey, and it’s nice to see that both actors have found great success after battling with addiction. 

You can catch Bentley as Jamie Dutton in the latest season of Yellowstone, which according to the Fall TV schedule, is slated to come out on November 13. When it comes to streaming Yellowstone, you can watch the first four seasons with a Peacock subscription, and you can use an internet TV subscription to keep up with Season 5 on Paramount. 

Riley Utley
Weekend Editor

Riley Utley is a Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. She spent many years working in local journalism across the country writing about art, news and sports. One of her favorite films is When Harry Met Sally and she walks around constantly quoting Ted Lasso.