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Robert Downey Jr. Talks Being Iron Man!

Published April 25, 2008 in Movie Interviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of Paramount Pictures
Iron Man Iron Man

Being Iron Man means a lot more than putting on a fancy costume. It means playing Tony Stark, hotshot weapons manufacturer, conflicted over his whole life's purpose. But he is also wearing that suit. For Robert Downey Jr., he performed in the suit as a series of pieces.

Robert Downey Jr. is Iron Man


"Me and the stunt guys were a little bit different," said Downey. "I had an average sized head, but I wasn't as tall and I had bigger arms which made it easier for them to get their arms in the suit, but then the helmet hurt one of their guy's heads and then the other plenty of room in the helmet but the shoes were too small. The suit was custom-made to fit a variety of people, I being one of them. I thought, 'This is crazy! I'm the guy with the suit.'"

Of course, the different iterations of Iron Man had slightly different properties. "It think the Mark I suit was like 70 pounds, and the Mark II and III were 55 pounds or 45 pounds or something like that."

If half of Iron Man is the Iron, there is still the Man, into whom Downey also delved. "I think he has to deal with the fact that he's become lonely in all of his glory and all of his material success and in all of his influence. When you see this guy in his workshop you realize his best friends are computers and robots and he really needs to get a life. He really needs to do something worthwhile because what he has been doing, and I'm not saying that we shouldn't keep America safe and the whole thing, but just building a better mousetrap of death isn't anyway to live. He's a real person and he has real issues and he probably wants to meet the world in a way he hasn't. He's been isolated. I think he's been a lonely kind of person."



Downey is no longer lonely. He is part of the Marvel family, and a vital part of Iron Man's development, on board for at least two more. "I always hear this and it used to piss me off, they'd go 'You know and I want to thank the whole 20th Century Fox family.' Family? They don't give a sh*t if you get in a car wreck tomorrow. I mean, if you don't promote the movie… The Marvel family really kind of does feel that way. It'd be Avi, when I was signing on to do it and now there are these guys who are kind of like the big shareholders. I'd be like, 'Here's a scene between Tony and Pepper where we're supposed to wonder if they are going to be an item or not…' and he goes, 'That's pretty good.'"

That doesn't mean Downey always got his way with every scene. "You feel a certain responsibility to make something all it can be, not that I'm right. I think the main thing is that if you want to talk about the Marvel family is that it is a family which also means that just because you are central in something doesn't mean you're always going to be right. You've got to listen to your brothers and sisters because they actually know. They know this, they've done a dozen movies like this and they know what has made the good ones successful and they know what's made the not so good ones fail."

They did benefit from Downey's efforts attracting the supporting cast. "They were smart, Kevin [Feige] and Avi and all the Marvel guys, to get Jon [Favreau] because Jon is a talent magnet of a certain kind anyway. Then once I was in with him and Terrence [Howard] was actually cast, and they were chasing him well before I was being considered, and then he was on my side and then we said we needed the greatest Pepper Potts we could think of. Suddenly I am on the phone and Chris Martin is answering saying, 'Yeah?' I’m like, 'Hey, it’s Robert Downey, is Gwyneth there?' 'What?' 'No really, it’s Robert Downey Jr., really.' He goes, 'Robert Downey f*cking Jr. is on the phone.' And then we really, really, really went after Jeff Bridges hard because he was definitely reticent, and he is, he’s a very, very picky guy. He’s the Dude. So just turning this thing to where if you get all these folks together we couldn't just call everyone in and show them a bunk time and some crap script and say, 'Stand over there and scream and throw your arms around, we’ll fix it later.' They’d be like, 'Character… I’d like to have a character too.'"

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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