Comic-Con: Roundtable with Robert Downey Jr.
Robert Downey Jr. is no stranger to the concept of a tragic hero. He played one for the majority of his life while trying to escape the downward spiral of drug addiction. Now, as he slowly puts back together the pieces of his broken life, the actor has signed on to play the one role that could launch him back into the spotlight. There couldn't be a better choice for Tony Stark, either, whose own struggle with alcoholism is just one of the Marvel superhero's many known flaws. Bullz-Eye recently sat in on a roundtable with the actor to discuss the political implications of his character and the possibility of more “Iron Man” movies in the future.
Reporter: What would you say Robert Downey and Tony Stark have in common?
Robert Downey Jr.: Well, we love each other.
Reporter: What drew you to him, and how do you think he talks to us today? Do you think there's the same controversy, politically and socially?
RDJ: I think so. How great was that when Stan Lee came out. What he wouldn't say is that he created Iron Man on a dare. A dare that you could take a military industrial complex billionaire womanizer in a time when all that stuff was really not cool. He was the man. I mean, you take the man and give himself such a metaphoric wound that he doesn't really turn it around – in fact, he goes half crazy by it, and by that flip comes out of one denial and into another; that denial being that he can't affect direct change, and it's messy and it doesn't go well, and he puts himself in danger. But it's not that thing. We couldn't do that – up, up and away, now I fight the good fight, I've seen the light. Any time I saw a piece of dialogue like that I would go “Hey, what the, get the fuck out of the script,” and Jon would be like – Jon's on a diet and I quit smoking – “could somebody give this guy some Nicorette gum, we've got to shoot a movie today.” I'd be like “I refuse,” and he'd be like “Alright, refuse. What do you wanna do instead?”
Reporter: You are a very, very witty guy, and you appear to be very smart, so it doesn't seem like there's much of a stretch when you're playing …
Reporter: You're really on top of you're game and it's very impressive, and Tony Stark is that way…
RDJ: He's also someone that inherited a massive responsibility, and he's actually a very industrious person. I make faces for cash and chicken, and I shot myself in the foot for years. If nothing else, I guess I could relate to someone who could see things a different way, and often times, having a sort of spiritual awakening – even if it's just an out-and-out trauma, or in his case abducted and being forced to do something evil again his own will and then has to innovate. I mean, that's the great thing, you know – and God bless people or other heroes who, their out is they're bit by a radioactive spider or they're, like, tripped out on bats – it's like, this is more like something happened that was his own doing and his own naïveté, and his own ability to come out of denial and see what effect it was having on life. This is a karma superhero, really, more than anything else.
Reporter: Do you think the movie's more about Tony Stark or Iron Man?
RDJ: Well, Tony Stark is Iron Man, but he doesn't know it until he becomes it. And then even when he becomes it, he's still very much Tony Stark. It's not like I'm all of sudden nice to Pepper Potts when she comes upstairs.
Reporter: What kind of image did you want to show?
RDJ: Well, I talked to Matt Damon a little bit, and we were talking about the director of the “Bourne Ultimatum,” and he said the director would always say “Don't smile. More butch. Right down the line,” and that's a good note. (laughs) I couldn't really stick to it.
Reporter: How often did you wear the suit? Did you physically wear the armor?
RDJ: Oh yeah. There's three guys – and then another guy at the end when we were too banged up to do it.
Reporter: Was that you doing sit-ups in the bootleg video on IESB?
RDJ: Coulda been. No, I was more the squats guy.
Reporter: Those scenes that you were shooting where you're fighting the Iron Monger and he's throwing the car. Was that you in the suit?
RDJ: That was all three of us, depending on what night you're talking about.
Reporter: Were you blind in the suit, because the images that we've seen there's a light coming from the eyes?
RDJ: Uh, yeah. There'd be times where they'd say “Okay we're all cool, now just put the helmet on.” And then I'd been looking at what all my blocking is, (he begins to act out the movements) and I've gotta do that and do a repulsor here – and then they go, “Okay, turn out the lights,” and then the line of vision would be there, like in a knight's thing, but it rode back a little bit.
Reporter: Who would win in a fight between you and Terrence if you were both in a comic book movie where you both played superheroes that could potentially do battle?
RDJ: You'll see.