LAKE PLACID, NY – Robert Downey Jr.'s father believes his son can lick his drug addiction by using a new regimen of nutritional supplements to eliminate his destructive cravings.
"The last I spoke to Robert a few days ago, he said he's up for it if we can put it together," said film director Robert Downey Sr. in his first interview in three years.
"I have a lot of hope. If he can stay focused and beat this, he can help himself and a lot of other people through his example."
Downey says he believes his Oscar-nominated son, currently facing cocaine-possession charges, will be able to stay out of jail and go into a rehab program.
He's encouraging his son to undergo extensive therapy using amino acids and herbal supplements to boost his dopamine levels, which are often impaired in addicts.
"His blood needs to be tested to see if this is appropriate," he said. "But in a third of cases, this works for people with addictions like his."
Downey Sr. prays the new approach will work where other therapies have failed.
"The truth is, if he hadn't been sent to jail, he'd probably be dead by now.
"Life is too easy when you're a movie star. People will do anything you want and get you anything you want.
"Hollywood is a horrible place and I wish he wasn't forced to live in California because of his legal problems," said Downey, who lives in New York.
Downey Sr. measures his words carefully.
He's shunned the press, trying to spare his son further pain.
The gregarious 64-year-old angrily talks about "my son's sycophantic so-called friends, who have been so quick to spill all the beans on him in the supermarket tabloids."
Yet Downey, who was teaching a master class in directing at the Lake Placid Film Forum over the weekend, seems eager to acknowledge all of the kind words of encouragement for himself and his son, who won a Golden Globe for his role in Ally McBeal earlier this year.
"He's doing great, thanks," he quietly tells a well-wisher, sadly acknowledging that sometimes he almost wishes junior wasn't such a brilliant actor in movies like Wonder Boys.
"People like him sometimes feel bad or confused about their natural gifts, and that may be a big part of his problem" he said.
Years ago, Downey Sr. survived his own struggle with drugs.
He became a cult figure after directing Putney Swope, a scathing 1969 satire about blacks taking over an advertising agency. But he hit bottom when his career foundered in the 1970s.
"Ten years of cocaine around the clock. I didn't beat it until '81, until my late wife gave me an ultimatum. I officially quit in front of my son.
"He keeps reminding me about it. I tell him, 'If it made such an impression on you, then why can't you do the same thing?'"