DOWNEY JR. GIVES LONG-LOST PAL A “KNIFE” SURPRISE!

ROBERT DOWNEY JR.
Photography by: Jason Winslow / Splash News

Strolling through an outdoor market on his way to an AA meeting in LA, "Iron Man" star ROBERT DOWNEY JR. was stunned when he spotted a guy he'd once been great friends with — back when both were struggling young actors — selling Ginsu knives to passers-by!

"After a few minutes chatting about old times, Robert learned that the guy has been really down on his luck for years, so he offered to help him out," said a source the star told about the encounter.

"But the guy flatly refused, saying he wouldn't accept a handout from Robert — or anyone else!"

After saying his goodbyes, Downey headed off to the AA meeting, where he asked 10 people to help him with his plan to help the guy.

Said the source: "Robert asked all of us to visit the market one at a time, and purchase a bunch of knives from the guy. He footed the whole bill, of course — which added up to about six thousand dollars!"