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Robert Downey Jr. Recalls “Chances Are” Costar Ryan O'Neal Warning Him to Clean Up His Act: 'The Door Came Off the Hinges'

The actor received the Maltin Modern Master Award at the 2024 Santa Barbara Film Festival on Friday

<p>Tibrina Hobson/Getty;Jason Kempin/Getty</p> Robert Downey Jr., Ryan O

Tibrina Hobson/Getty;Jason Kempin/Getty

Robert Downey Jr., Ryan O'Neal

Robert Downey Jr. is reflecting on an impactful conversation with Ryan O'Neal from "the first day of rehearsals" for their 1989 film Chances Are.

Speaking with Maltin Modern Master Award namesake Leonard Maltin at the 2024 Santa Barbara Film Festival on Friday, the 58-year-old Oscar nominee revealed that he and the late O'Neal — who died in December at age 82 — had an eye-opening conversation while making Chances Are.

After having shown what he called "the dark side of Hollywood" in 1987's Less Than Zero, Downey Jr. detailed one specific memory from Chances Are two years later.

Related: Robert Downey Jr. Thanks Wife Susan, Rob Lowe, Cillian Murphy as He Accepts 2024 Santa Barbara Film Festival Honor

<p>Moviestore/Shutterstock</p> Robert Downey Jr. and Ryan O'Neal in 1989's 'Chances Are'

Moviestore/Shutterstock

Robert Downey Jr. and Ryan O'Neal in 1989's 'Chances Are'

"We were in Washington, D.C. I met some friends, went out back at the hotel, we ordered some champagne," Downey Jr. said of his first day of rehearsals.

"One thing led to another, and then the read-through was at 11:00 a.m. and it was about 2:45 p.m. and I was just sleeping it off and the door came off the hinges and it was Ryan O'Neal. And it was like, 'I'm here telling you, you're f------ up. Oh my God, you're f------ up.' And I was like, 'Wow. People seem pretty uptight,' " he said. "Not that I knew I was late, but it was a bit of a warning sign there."

As Downey Jr. shared, he loved "shooting the movie," but questioned why after Less Than Zero he was making what he at the time considered a "dumb a-- romantic comedy."

"Because that's what people want to see you do. We don't want to see you dying in Palm Springs and bumming everybody up. I was like, 'Oh, okay. Don't worry.' [I'll] wake up on time for the next read through. Don't worry about it. I'll just start earlier,' " he recalled saying.

Related: 2024 Oscar Nominations: Barbie, Oppenheimer and American Fiction Among Nominees — See the Full List

<p>Rebecca Sapp/Getty</p> Robert Downey Jr. joined by Cillian Murphy and Rob Lowe at the 39th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival

Rebecca Sapp/Getty

Robert Downey Jr. joined by Cillian Murphy and Rob Lowe at the 39th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival

As previously reported, Downey Jr. accepted his latest award on Friday while being celebrated with speeches from friends Rob Lowe and Oppenheimer costar Cillian Murphy. The award, named after Maltin, was first created in 1995 “to honor an individual who has enriched our culture through accomplishments in the motion picture industry," per the festival.

After describing Lowe as "someone who has demonstrated so much to me" and Murphy as "a f------ force of nature," Downey Jr. made sure to wrap up his speech with a message for his wife, Susan Downey.

"And as always, I will never finish any thank you, even though she's probably just getting ready to put the kids to bed soon, without thanking my dearest associate, Susan Downey," he concluded.

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Downey Jr.’s list of upcoming projects includes the HBO miniseries The Sympathizer. He's up for best supporting actor at the Academy Awards on March 10, thanks to his role in the latest Christopher Nolan blockbuster.

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