Robert Downey Jr. talks about getting suited up for ‘Iron Man 2’
By Todd Gilchrist
It’s indisputable that the first Iron Man resuscitated Robert Downey Jr.’s career, but there’s no doubt that in that role, the actor found a perfect synthesis of a character’s personality quirks and his own. Next week, Iron Man 2 is scheduled for release, and in the eagerly-awaited follow-up, Downey further expands on both Tony Stark’s smarmy charms, and his own A-list pedigree.
Hollywood News recently joined a small army of reporters at a press day in Beverly Hills, Calif., to speak with Downey about his contributions to the upcoming sequel. In addition to talking about getting suited up again, Downey offered a few scoops – albeit humorous ones – about some of his upcoming roles, and took the time to champion his Iron Man 2 co-stars, even as, in perfect Stark and Downey form, he ribbed them in equal measures.
[Note: Although “Hollywood News” is used to distinguish questions from answers in the text below, our journalist was just one of many reporters asking questions of the filmmakers.]
Hollywood News: Robert, can you talk about the pressure you did or did nor feel making a sequel after the success of the first film?
Robert Downey Jr.: You mean like feel like it’s past tense? I didn’t sleep last night. I didn’t sleep last night!
Hollywood News: This might be a little off-topic, but Robert, are you going to be the vampire Lestat, or is there any truth to that rumor?
Downey: Yeah, and I mean, anything that’s going on, just imagine it’s been offered to me. (laughs) I like that you imagine we’ve been on-topic so far.
Hollywood News: Did you ever dress up as a superhero as a kid, and if so, who did you dress up as?
Downey: Growing up, no. But in my mid-30s in Palm Springs, right before an arrest, yes. (laughs) It was a premonition.
Hollywood News: What was it like working with the new additions to the cast?
Downey: Um, it was great. Because these are all folks that I’d be happy to work with in any circumstance and any medium, so it was just swell. As for the management of it, because I’m a little, I don’t want to say neurotic, but I felt a little bit like a co-manager of a baseball team that got an even better lineup in the spring. So I felt a little beholden to be partially responsible for their experience. But really a lot of that fell on Justin, which is why, I don’t know why we haven’t talked about it yet, you had a horrible neck problem during the entire shoot, didn’t you? I mean, at one point I thought he was going to have his head removed.
Hollywood News: There’s a real Moonlighting sort of chemistry between you and Gwyneth, and the kiss was eagerly anticipated. How was it to get to pay that off finally?
Downey: I couldn’t get her off of me. It was embarrassing. She said to me that I didn’t know what I was doing, like it didn’t feel good. I’m like, you know what? First of all, we’re all friends, so what would be creepy would be if I was coming off all sexy to you – which by the way, I’ve done that in movies and it creeps them out. So what am I going to creep you out for? Despite what she said on set, she still thinks about it.
Hollywood News: How did Jon Favreau’s role get more fleshed out this time around?
Downey: Let’s talk about Happy Hogan. All right, there’s three Happy Hogans in the movie. There’s the Jon Favreau that was in actually excellent shape. He was boxing every day in preproduction and made it into the ring, the scene where he gets his ass handed to him by Scarlett. It was originally a longer scene and maybe he was just too emasculated to actually let it be in the movie but I think you laid the boots to him quite severely. Midway, he’s struggling with the meta fast but occasionally he’d binge and have pizza but then say, “This is crazy. I’ve got to get back in shape.” By the time we were doing the reshoots, they were framing him out of shots (laughs).
Hollywood News: What were the intellectual and emotional challenges for you in terms of playing this character?
Downey: Uh, let’s see. Physically, I feel like Don and Scarlett and Mickey actually had a heavier load this time as far as just armature. Again, I think we just labored really hard to say okay, we’re audience members who made the first Iron Man successful and we’re smart which is kind of why we were drawn to it so what do we expect? So we kept putting ourselves in audience seats. So me, the mental and emotional aspects and development of Tony were to me a lot more – – it’s strange to say personal because it’s not necessarily related to my life so to speak but just the mythology of saying you’re something and being that thing are something entirely different. And also this whole idea of Howard Stark and the legacy and the shadow of that legacy that we always were talking about, Mickey and I, about being kind of two sides of the same coin. One who was able to escape that captivity and one who saw his father die in the ruins of improper recognition, and having to reckon with that. Really, all of the characters, Black Widow/Natalie in certain places bringing me back to an extended family I’ve always had, and Mickey as Anton is telling me that all is not well and people have vendettas for reasons I might not understand but I need to understand. And Rhodey is there saying, “Hey, you’ve always had me on your wing so why won’t you really let me help you?”
View the “Iron Man 2” Photo gallery below: