2008 Power List: 19. Robert Downey Jr.

Actor (Age: 43)

When Robert Downey Jr. famously said "What's amazing is no matter how much I fuck up, it keeps straightening itself out," he was being characteristically modest: Things haven't just straightened out for the rehab recidivist—they now appear to be set on a vertical trajectory, one that has seen him become perhaps the hottest commodity in Hollywood. Having traded coke and heroin for coffee and cigarettes, Downey proved this year that he can deliver blockbuster charisma (the summer's much-lauded Iron Man earned nearly $600 million at the box office) without losing his wild edge. Don't forget he went all in and won in blackface in the uproarious Tropic Thunder. Nobody besides Heath Ledger has generated more Oscar buzz. The Soloist, with Jamie Foxx, comes next for Downey, then a crack at Sherlock Holmes before he dons the metal suit again for Iron Man 2, in 2010. "He's up and down like a yo-yo," his best pal Mel Gibson recently said. "But he's grown, and he's going to move forward and conquer the world." Pretty good for a guy who was busted carrying cocaine, heroine, and a concealed handgun on a Malibu highway a few years back. Downey, that is—Gibson the anti-Semite was merely drunk.

20. THE FAT BOY >>

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