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Robert Downey Jr. on Iron Man

Published May 1, 2008 in Movie Interviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of Paramount Pictures
Iron Man Iron Man

Robert Downey Jr. has held out for the ultimate superhero role. As Tony Stark, he is Iron Man, the weapons maker who builds his own iron suit to escape terrorists, then needs it to fight more supervillains. In the past, Downey would have had to settle for much lesser roles.

Robert Downey Jr. Talks Iron Man

"I thought all these times when it seemed like in the atmosphere that there was another one of these, it's like your superhero of the week thing and there are so many," said Downey. "I was like, 'Green Hornet? No. But Green Hornet? No.' Or other different ones or some of the other ones that have happened where the first thought would be, 'We need you to play the bad guy in our movie like this.' I was like, 'The bad guy, yeah, bad guy, yeah, I'm a bad guy.'"

Landing the title role in one of Marvel's crown jewels was simply a matter of wowing the bosses. "I went to Arad’s offices in Beverly Hills, a little intimidating. You see all the posters and the thing, what they're doing next, all this stuff and you go, 'Oh wow, I wonder if I could get a job with these guys.' I think I was literally walking in for a general meeting. I walk in and there’s Jon [Favreau] and I'm like, 'Hey hey.' Then suddenly I'm in this boardroom and they basically interviewed me for a while and I thought I did okay and I left. Then I get a call and Jon’s like, 'I think you’d be great. I mean the board members and stuff back in New York won’t do it, but…' Anyway, I said, 'Nah, I really think it is meant to be,' and Avi walked me out and said, 'I really liked you.' Then a couple months later I screen tested and did well and here we are. Kind of like Chaplin, same deal, different decade."

Downey's own preparation methods helped seal the deal. "I know how to prepare. It's such a stupid thing but like I could take six years. I couldn't really justify it but I could take so long just getting ready to do three scenes. That's really indulgent, it's not right, but I could study this scene and then I'm off book and then I think about how I could do it, and then I think about all the additional stuff. There could be little improvisations that could go off, I could think about playing it different ways and then that's one scene. But we had three scenes for the screen test, and there was just no way any other actor on Earth was going to be able to do them as well as I could because none of them would have been crazy enough to spend as much time contemplating. I would wake up in the morning and I would look at it and then I'd have coffee and then I'd put it down and then I'd write it out, and then I'd see if I knew it. I would walk around and say it."

See if you can spot those scenes in the final film. "One of them was a scene that's scene one in the movie, when he's in the humvee with the soldiers. Another was a scene that never made it in the movie. The other one was the scene with the reporter where she tells him what a piece of garbage he is and then he winds up banging her. It was that kind of like range. They were really smart screen test scenes. That's the thing. I just say it's love of the game. I'm gonna get this so dialed in that somebody else, literally, they would have to be crazy. They'd have to go from the screen test to an institution to be as ready as I was."

Iron Man opens to theatres on May 2nd.

For the posters, trailers, stills and latest headlines, go to the Iron Man Movie Page.
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Compiled By (Sources)
Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of Paramount Pictures

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