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Iron Man 3 - Robert Downey Jr interview

Iron Man 3

Interview by Rob Carnevale

ROBERT Downey Jr talks about some of the challenges of returning to the role of Tony Stark in Iron Man 3, particularly in light of the spectacle and success of Joss Whedon’s Avengers.

He also talks about the inclusion of a couple of Downton Abbey references in the story, competing with Don Cheadle for getting into shape and finds himself stumped by one question. He was speaking at a UK press conference…

Q. We see Tony Stark stripped of all the things he has come to rely on in this film. For you, was that a good way to explore more about this character?
Robert Downey Jr: We thought that after Avengers we couldn’t go for more of a spectacle, so I’m just so pleased that people who have seen the movie are telling us that we kind of did this correctly, enough for me to be proud to announce the next instalment where it’ll just be Rebecca [Hall] and I. It’ll be called Iron Man Parade’s End.

We also wanted to get to a point where kids would be having that conversation when they left the theatre. We wanted people to be having conversations about genetic enhancements, and what does this mean, and is terrorism media driven or whatever – without being political! So, I’m just very happy that those arguments are occurring.

Q. Your character has post-traumatic stress disorder but still keeps on moving forward. How did you achieve that balance?
Robert Downey Jr: Again, what I really liked about this was that it was a post-Avengers world. So, we just asked the question: “Wouldn’t he be a little freaked out?” And then that was part of the theme. Sir Ben [Kingsley] is right. We didn’t rest on our laurels. The trauma thing was, again, getting away from The Avengers because we can’t beat the spectacle of that so let’s ask what would it actually be like when we got back into Tony’s world.

Q. You’re in great shape in the film. Was there anything specific you did for training? What was the most physically exhausting film you’ve done?
Robert Downey Jr: I’m required to say that I did some Tracy Anderson training… I hate to say it, but Don [Cheadle] is actually in better shape than I am and he’s more physically capable. But I’m not going to let it stay like that. When fitness magazines are asking me what I’m up to, that’s what moves me! The question that the dialogue between Don and I of who’s more fit is going to end with Iron Man 17.

Q. And the most physically challenging role you’ve done?
Robert Downey Jr: I think any of us could say that we all moved around more [here] than we expected to.

Q. Did you find working with Shane Black reinvigorated the way you approached playing Tony Stark this time? And would you direct a Marvel movie?
Robert Downey Jr: Do you mean just eliminate the middle man? Excellent question! Well, first of all I had a really good time making this movie. I don’t often set out to imagine I’m going to have a fun time shooting it because they’re genre movies but we take them pretty seriously. And then they get all stress-y. As for directing, do you want me to? It just sounds so exhausting!

Q. Where did Downton Abbey come from?
Robert Downey Jr: I think it was Jon Favreau’s idea. A) He likes it. And B) I think he thought what would the strangest thing that Happy would be obsessed with watching. But he liked it because isn’t the driver in love with the gal? He thought the themes were concurrent.

Q. Do you suffer anxiety in your career?
Robert Downey Jr: Stop asking questions! You’ve made me anxious, especially when asking questions like that! Don [Cheadle]! Don always calms me down.

Q. Tony Stark has saved the world a lot. And yet fellow billionaire entrepreneurs like Donald Trump and Richard Branson don’t seem as concerned about super-villains. Do you think they should be and how do you think those guys would get on if they spent a day in the life of Iron Man?
Robert Downey Jr: You know, I’m pretty quick. I think I’m pretty quick. But I might be out of steam! Why don’t you repeat the question when we leave and after I’ve had dinner with him [points to previous person who asked a question flattering him] maybe you’ll come over for an aperitif? I wouldn’t know how to answer that question. But all’s I know is we’re doing something right.

I’m really glad that audiences are responding to this movie. Being able to do this again with people like Don [Cheadle] and Gwyneth [Paltrow] is a great pleasure but having Sir Ben [Kingsley] having rocketed us into another dimension with arguably the most complicated arc in superhero history and the over-talented Rebecca Hall showing up and doing us a big solid in classing the joint up has just made this a most delightful experience. And Drew [Pearce] and Shane [Black] listened to us all run our mouths off for weeks and weeks and weeks and then they said ‘thank you very much’ and went away and came back with this script, which is the story that we shot. And that’s the reason we’re sitting here and that’s the reason that most of you aren’t saying ‘this film sucks, please don’t ever waste our time again’.

Read our review of Iron Man 3

Read our interview with Shane Black