Robert Downey Jr Interview For ‘Iron Man 3′
‘Iron Man 3′ pits the brash-but-brilliant industrialist Tony Stark against an enemy whose reach knows no bounds. When Stark finds his personal world destroyed at his enemy’s hands, he embarks on a harrowing quest to find those responsible. This journey, at every turn, will test his mettle. With his back against the wall, Stark is left to survive by his own devices, relying on his ingenuity and instincts to protect those closest to him. As he fights his way back, Stark discovers the answer to the question that has secretly haunted him: does the man make the suit or does the suit make the man?
Based on the ever-popular Marvel comic book series, ‘Iron Man 3′ returns Robert Downey Jr as the iconic Tony Stark/Iron Man along with Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts, Don Cheadle as James “Rhodey” Rhodes, Paul Bettany as JARVIS, and Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan. The likes of Ben Kingsley, Rebecca Hall, James Badge Dale, Guy Pearce, Wang Xuequi and William Sadler join the Marvel universe in this third Iron Man movie as The Mandarin, Maya Hansen, Eric Savin, Aldrich Killian, Dr. Wu and Sal Kennedy, respectively. ‘Iron Man 3,’ the latest installment of the ‘Iron Man’ film franchise that has grossed more than $1.2 billion at the global box office, will be released in the UK on April 25th and in North America on May 3rd.
I know you’ve been all around the world promoting ‘Iron Man 3,’ how has that been?
Robert Downey Jr: I’m still kind of reeling from this ‘Iron Man 3’ world tour, going to Korea, China, Russia, Germnay, France, England. The fans are what’s driving the success of these movies, and it’s amazing to see how stoked people are, all around the world. There’d be a massive amount of people turning up to these events and I’ve being seeing all of these faces, kind of connecting in this odd way with all these other human beings where I’m kind of participating in their enjoyment of this spectacle, you know? It was awesome. We were travelling a lot and doing quick turnarounds, getting ready to do the next thing. So it can be stressful, but it’s a part of the job. But I also got to do stuff I hadn’t done before. I got to go to Moscow, go to this cool Museum, we went to the Forbidden City… and I got to wear some lederhosen in Munich (laughs). I got to kind of connect with my own lineage and aspects of my own DNA. Its been wild.
How do you think Tony has developed over time, from the very beginning to now? And what do think it is about his journey that really appeals to people?
Robert Downey Jr: I think Tony has had a very human journey, for someone who’s a part of this Marvel Universe. In a way, Stan Lee is so brilliant because the Tony Stark character grounds almost everything and everyone else. You think, “There’s someone who could be one of us.” I think that’s the way it’s important. Seeing him mature is probably the wrong word, but seeing him be able to flex as he goes through all these different challenges, and kind of maintain his wit and his integrity in some way – he didn’t really have integrity when we first met him, and then he gained it as he used technically to save his own skin. There’s a lot of themes that I think are every bit as current today as they were in the 60s when Stan thought him up.
Whenever you have a huge franchise, or a series of films, I imagine a focus is raising the bar. As an actor and as someone who’s so involved in these movies, do you even think about that?
Robert Downey Jr: I think about everything – I think too much (laughs). So I definitely thought about that. I think in this case it served us well because I’ve been intimately exposed to everything that’s worked – and possibly didn’t work so good – in all the kinds of movies that I’ve enjoyed seeing that you could call genre movies over the last 25 years. So it’s more of a “To Do Not” list, which included things like: repeating yourself, going for the same kind of jokes, going for the same kind of emotional moments, going for the same kind of plot turnarounds. And Shane Black, he was the new concept bringer for ‘Iron Man 3.’ In some ways Jon Favreau and I were saddled with helping to launch this perhaps bigger idea of an Avengers franchise, so we had some heavy lifting to do. Strangely Shane, who joined us after that, he had none of those requirements (laughs), because of the success of ‘The Avengers.’
With this I can honestly say that people should expect to be continually surprised. There is intentionally a mislead into a redirect into a turnaround into a bait-and-switch into a red herring (laughs). But I think that in some ways that this is the most emotionally satisfying and the most technically and action-wise and superhero-wise entertaining of the three. It’s fun.
‘Iron Man 3 comes five years after the first ‘Iron Man’ film. How has your approach to the character changed?
Robert Downey Jr: I am five years older, so back in the day all I cared about was, “Have I taken enough creatine, do my arms look big, how’s the light?” And then, “Am I kind of charming and funny?” (laughs). And this time around the relationship with Pepper is obviously the kind of center of the movie. Contrary to my own designs, it seems like this time I’m much less thinking about how do I come off and this and that. I am thinking about the other characters. I’m thinking about this kind of a checklist of stuff that we always thought maybe we should do. One of them was we always felt like Tony and Rhodey should be at Neptune’s Net because it is up the road from where Tony lives and it’s a biker bar. So Jon Favreau and I, and then Shane Black and I, and even Joss Whedon, have all contributed to this kind of Christmas list that we never got to execute because story or time or money or whatever got in the way. And it seems like, without it being convoluted, a lot of those wishes are coming true in ‘Iron Man 3.’
I start thinking in terms of what’s in it for my co-stars, I start thinking in those terms for my co-stars. And what is it that keeps this interesting for Gwyneth? And we’ve addressed that this time because she has a pretty remarkable arc for a love-interest, female heroine in this sort of film. So that’s probably one of the things that I am most excited about. Without giving it away, let’s just say she has a pretty incredible arc this time.
How was this ‘Iron Man 3’ shoot different from the other two ‘Iron Man’ films?
Robert Downey Jr: We had a lot of night shoots on this movie, and there were points in the night shoots where everything was coming together all at once and it’s four in the morning and there are 25 plot points and 6 characters and you just go, “Wow.” And the best remedy for complication is just a good time (laughs). So this has been, I think probably since the first Iron Man -as stressful as it was and as much hope and as much excitement as we had in the unproven entity – a real return to a sense of just fun and goodwill. I think everyone just trusts themselves now too. It’s like we’ve been doing this long enough to not be second-guessing ourselves. We’ll second-guess each other just because we’re used to it and it helps push the envelope a little further toward the edge. But this time we kind of started at the edge and we’ve been falling into the chasm together.
When you signed onto the franchise, did you know people would relate to this character and that it would be this special?
Robert Downey Jr: At this point, with the first two ‘Iron Man’ movies and then ‘The Avengers’ and now doing ‘Iron Man 3,’ there is obviously this sense of continuity. I think with Iron Man and Tony Stark, there’s something timely about it. I think part of what really made it work was it was tangible, you know? And with Legacy, the human beings who make all the tech in the movie, it’s as if you can reach out as we go from movie to movie and you are feeling more and more like you’re seeing something that’s become part of the collective unconscious. On a certain level this stuff is real and it’s also kind of feasible technologically. So I think that’s what made it successful. We had a group of talented people and we did something that kind of bridged a gap between the unfeasibility of most superhero genre movies and the kind of movies like a ‘James Bond’ or ‘Mission Impossible’ that are grounded in things that we think could happen. The nice thing about Tony Stark is that he doesn’t even take his own arc that seriously because he falls so far from where he was. But he really needed to, and I think people have always related to that life-lessons part of the character.
How was it bringing on-board someone like Ben Kingsley to play the grandiose character he plays?
Robert Downey Jr: That’s one of the things that Marvel does best. Marvel casting is very thoughtful and very conscientious and also very bold in their casting choices. Sir Ben brought the trifecta of an extremely accomplished artist who also came with a lot of very strong ideas that were necessary and had to be implemented, and then third, decided to absolutely cut loose and play in a sandbox like an improvisational five year-old. And I think probably the most fun that I’ve had shooting the film has been watching what he’s done that you never could’ve imagined would be scripted before they said “rolling.” So, and coming from me, who prides myself on off-the-cuff stuff, I guess that’s saying a lot. So in a way, this movie would not have worked at all and would not be the movie it’s going to be if Sir Ben hadn’t done what he did.
I think what is inspiring is when you motivate and push each other to say, “Hey, you know, we can really kind of play here. We don’t just have to serve material.” If you have good instincts, that’s kind of what you’re always left wanting when the movie is done shooting anyway. Speaking of which, Guy Pearce, who plays Killian, really came out of the gate and I think he is going to remind people why he’s one of our great, national treasures – on loan from Australia, of course (laughs). The cast is brilliant, just fantastic. Everyone!
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