Sober Robert Downey Jr. Back on Big Screen

N E W   Y O R K, Oct. 10, 2003 -- After struggling for years with drug addiction, Robert Downey Jr. says he truly believes temptation will no longer get the best of him.

Downey told ABCNEWS' Diane Sawyer his life is no longer an everyday struggle because he finally made a decision to get off drugs for good.

"I know there's all the stuff about it's a disease, it's a moral dilemma … but I think at the end of the day, it's the lack of making a solid personal decision. Sometimes the stakes have to be so high that it's clear," Downey said on Good Morning America.

During the filming of his first movie in three years, The Singing Detective, the award-winning actor says he was clean and sober throughout production.

The Singing Detective — Downey's first film since his release from jail and subsequent treatment in a live-in drug rehabilitation facility — is a big screen version of a six-part British television miniseries which was a hit on PBS.

The show revolved around a private investigator who doubled as a singer in a dance band.

For the movie, the story has been reset in Los Angeles and moved from the 1940s to the 1950s.

Downey struggled with drug addiction for years before he was finally sentenced to three years in prison back in 1999. A Los Angeles Superior Court judge handed down the sentence after the actor violated his probation on a 1996 cocaine possession charge by repeatedly missing mandatory drug tests.

After his release in August of 2000, Downey was arrested just three months later on Thanksgiving after police in Palm Springs caught him with cocaine and methamphetamine.

Then, just five months later, he was arrested again and charged with a misdemeanor count of being under the influence of a controlled substance. The actor immediately checked himself into a rehabilitation facility for one year of treatment.

Downey says rehab only works if people are prepared to fully embrace it, and he says he finally came to that point in his life.

Downey had been working on Fox's Ally McBeal before his last arrest. When the news broke, producers dropped Downey, who had won a Golden Globe award and Screen Actors Guild trophy for his role on the show.

Since his release, the 38-year-old actor says he has been spending most of his time with his son, Indio, and his girlfriend, film producer Susan Levin.

Downey says his son and Levin help keep him on the straight and narrow.

"Susan said, 'don't do anymore or I'm splitting,'" Downey said.

The actor says his 10-year-old son is more interested in playing than anything else. Downey says he doesn't ask about the time he spent away.

"I sit down and I think I'm going to tell him how it is, but he doesn't want to hear that," Downey said. "He'd rather talk about how his curveball looks that day or whatever."

Downey says his ex-wife, singer-songwriter Deborah Falconer, was left to explain much of what went on during the past few years to their son. The couple broke up in 1996 after four years of marriage.

Despite his legal problems, Downey has never suffered in terms of a lack of offers when it comes to his work. The actor, who was nominated for an Oscar for his 1992 performance in Chaplin, has continued acting in between his stints in jail and rehab over the last seven years. Downey says he's received some wonderful new offers since he finished his yearlong treatment program.