Robert Downey Jr.'s MTV Movie Awards speech sends teens a powerful message

Apr 12, 2015 at 9:10 p.m. ET
Image: Kevork Djansezian/MTV1415/Getty Images For MTV

Robert Downey Jr. dropped some hard-earned knowledge on MTV audiences in his Generation Award acceptance speech, and we think it deserves a second take.

You'd be hard-pressed to find a better example of a Hollywood comeback story than Robert Downey Jr. The talented and tortured actor has, as Downey admitted in tonight's acceptance speech, "literally clawed his way to the top" after five years of battling addiction.

Downey's Avengers co-stars presented the award to him, promptly kneeling in Avengers-ready positions as he spoke.

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"Wow, that's my generation's version of the Oscars," exclaimed Downey. "In the 34 years that have passed since the birth of MTV, I have grown up. I've struggled, I've failed, I've succeeded, I've partied way too much."

It's incredibly moving to see Downey speaking honestly about his younger partying days in a theater crowded with young people, especially since he then went on to challenge them to be their best selves. As an added incentive, he touted his incredible good fortune to be working on the Avengers franchise with his co-stars, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans and Mark Ruffalo.

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With recent hits such as the Iron Man and Avengers franchises, not to mention Sherlock Holmes and a handful of other box-office successes, it truly seems like Downey's on top of the world. His challenging ascension to the upper Hollywood elite shouldn't be ignored, however, and it seems Downey himself believes that he's lived a life young people can learn from.

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But Downey's real message came at the finish of his speech: "Dream big, work hard, keep your nose clean, be of service and yes, because you can, define your generation."

Those are words to live by from someone who really knows their value.

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