Robert Downey Jr. Comic-Con Interview IRON MAN 2

     July 27, 2009

Iron Man movie image Robert Downey Jr.jpg

Two years ago “Iron Man” came to Comic-Con and left as the undisputed winner. While the competition was much greater this time around, most are saying that “Iron Man 2” either won the weekend or was in the top three. Not bad when you’re up against James Cameron and dozens of other big budget Hollywood films.

Anyway, after the cast of “Iron Man 2” kicked everyone’s ass in Hall H, they answered a lot of press questions. Thankfully, I got to participate in a small roundtable interview with Robert Downey Jr. and after the jump you can either read or listen to what he said about playing Tony Stark again and what it was like to come back to Comic-Con. It’s a great interview so check it out:

While I love to sum up what people say before the transcript, this is one of those great interviews that you really should read….so no summary here. But, if you’d like to listen to what Robert Downey Jr. said, here’s the audio.


Question: How does it once again feel like walking into Hall H and being the rock star that you are?

Downey: Fleeting.

Question: All you have to do is walk down there right now and get the same reaction.

Downey: Right. Wouldn’t be appropriate. The Hall H experience, I don’t know what to say. Honestly, I think the weird thing is that I have a job and I like it a bunch and I like it best when I’m doing it. Then there’s a bunch of other stuff that seems, like, when I was a teenager what I wanted was the experience of walking into a Hall H and having a reaction like that. But I didn’t actually want to have to do what it took to maybe earn anywhere near the kind of pseudo-respect that gets you in that position. So I don’t really know what quite to make of it. I know that it feels good but I also know that one should exert caution over things that feel good just for a second and then are done.

Question: How has Tony Stark changed?

Downey: Well, that’s I think the question he’s asking himself. I think it brings a lot of internal conflict because he was thought of as this kind of charming prick and then he’s almost killed and then he exerts his own escape. It’s kind of heroic, but really kind of on his own behalf. So I think there’s probably a bit of an imposter complex and no sooner has he said, ‘I am Iron Man -‘ that he’s now really wondering what that means. If you have all this cushion like he does and the public is on your side and you have immense wealth and power, I think he’s way too insulated to be okay. I think the footage has tipped the fact, too, that he’s struggling with some sort of contamination of his own system and he has a very formidable guy saying, ‘I don’t care what everyone thinks about you. I know that you come from a family of murderers and thieves. I’m going to take you out of your misery.’ Maybe he almost half wants that to happen.

Question: There’s a lot going on there.


Downey: A lot going. It’s badass. This story is really sweet, and we’re so proud of it because we literally worked so hard and spent so much time together and worked so many weekends and tore our eyebrows out trying to find the best way to express the most streamlined version of the complexities of what would really happen.

Question: The Senate scene, is that really a big plot point in the film, as far as the government wanting to get the tech?

Downey: It’s a big activator, but it is not the story at all.

Question: Is it what drives the conflict between Tony and Justin, or is that already there before it started?

Downey: Well, I think that if Justin Hammer is really ready to step in and fill Tony’s shoes and say, ‘Hey, dude, just let me do it for you -‘ but if you look at Justin Hammer and you look at the way that Sam Rockwell plays him it’s like, ‘Not you, buddy. You’re a jerk. I don’t trust you.’ Maybe he should have trusted him or maybe he’s more trustworthy than Tony thinks, but Tony just thinks he can handle everything if he just gets enough space and he can figure everything out if he just puts his mind to it. That’s not the way that it works. I think that’s the big lesson in this film, that he has to utilize not only all of his own resources but the resources of those closest to him and then resources from somewhere that he never ever, ever could’ve imagined. It’s not just as obvious as, like, S.H.I.E.L.D. stepping in. It’s actually a lot more primal than that. So it’s a really kind of multi-level thing and what I feel I would deserve if I loved ‘Iron Man 1’. I’m a huge sequel guy. If anyone says something shitty about ‘Lethal Weapon 2’ or ‘Die Hard 2’ or ‘Matrix 2’ I just don’t want to hear it and they don’t understand. So, even when they’re not done perfectly I’m crazy about them.

Question: So then this will be like ‘Empire Strikes Back’, it’ll surpass the first?

Mickey Rourke Whiplash Iron Man 2 movie image.jpg

Downey: Well, you know there’s a lot of debate about that. I’ve heard a lot of ‘Wrath of Kahn’, ‘Empire Strikes Back’.

Question: The relationship between you and Rhodey seems to be strained in the scene we saw earlier. Can you talk about that?

Downey: Yeah. Well, in that scene I don’t think it’s anyone’s fault. As we remember in our previous incarnation I give Rhodey a lot of shit and I don’t understand why when I got out of the weapons business he wouldn’t just come with me. I think there’s also a big learning curve here where Rhodey is used to everything you do you do with a wing man and when you go at it alone lives are lost. I think Tony’s thing is that Rhodey doesn’t know what it’s like to go at it alone and be the lone samurai. So that’s something there, very much a transference there from both of them.

Question: Can you talk about having a huge franchise this Christmas and another huge franchise next summer and what this is like for you?

Downey: What’s it like. It’s best that I return to that worker amongst workers thing because it’s the only place I’m affective. All that self-aggrandizing stuff, if I can take that and use it to help sell soap and promote the product I’m doing because that’s a big part of the job, and I like it. I have an embarrassment of riches but it all comes down to the fact that when I’m working with people I work really hard. When I’m a worker amongst workers the results are really, really, really satisfying.

Question: Did you just sign up for Todd Phillips? Is that right?

Downey: Yes.

Question: Can you talk about what this thing is?


Downey: Yes. There’s this guy who’s wife is expecting and he winds up getting kicked off the plane with another guy who’s played by Zack Galifianakis. It’s not his fault. Then they have to get through Atlanta to Los Angeles. Just image the likes that he and I with Phillips at the helm, it’s one of those things where I just did ‘Sherlock’ and I thought, ‘I have to take some time off. This is crazy.’ Then it was like, ‘Oh, that.’ I read that and I’m laughing my ass off.

Question: It’s like a new ‘Planes, Trains and Automobiles’ kind of?

Downey: Yeah, and there’s a little ‘Rain Man’ in there, too. Definitely a little ‘Rain Man’.

Question: Did you write in your contact that you get an ‘Iron Man’ suit of armor to take home?

Downey: They keep telling me that they’re going to give me all the bells and whistles. Maybe I make it contractual.

Question: Everybody that came to your house would be like, ‘Whoa.’

Downey: That would be good. That would be worshipping false idols which I don’t have any trouble with as long as the idol was made in my image. Worker amongst workers. Stop it!

Question: Are we going to see more of Tony as a playboy in the film?

Downey: It would be a shame to waste it in a movie that’s already spinning so many plates. But as previously mentioned, if he was making some poor choices and then decided to throw himself a birthday party, expect that birthday party to be a Bacchanalian disaster.

iron-man-movie-image-_13_.jpgQuestion: We saw one scene where you were dancing with Scarlett Johansson. Can you talk about that?

Downey: I would imagine that that was a piece of his birthday party. He would not have his birthday party at a nightclub. He would probably blow his own roof off.

Question: Do you have a favorite scene?

Downey: I actually don’t. I haven’t seen an assembly yet, but there’s a lot, a lot, a lot of really strong stuff. Let me put it this way, by the time War Machine and Iron Man go through their rigmarole and are back to back there’s some really cool ‘Butch and Sundance’ stuff going on that I think should rival the best of them.

Question: The action in the first one is very much character based with some good action. Is there a lot more action in this film? How would you characterize the action in this one?

Downey: Every piece of action that happens in ‘Iron Man 2’ is a direct result of part of a character dysfunction, including probably the biggest sequence in the first hour of the movie. It just happens because…anyway, I don’t want to give it away. Everything is as a result of character dysfunction or mistakes made. Those mistakes when Iron Man and you’re surrounded by the kind of people he is the ramifications are gi-normous.

Question: Are there more scenes with you and Samuel L. Jackson?

iron_man_movie_image__4_1.jpgDowney: Yeah. Actually, to me, it’s the real activating sub-plot to the movie. He is such a badass and such a talent. We didn’t have much time with him but we really, really did something special I think.

Question: How does Tony change in the second film with his relationships with the people around him. Especially with women.

Downey: Well, as one would imagine it, it does, but I think the interesting thing is often times in these films, too, it’s either that the film is about girl power, ‘Monsters vs. Aliens’ or whatever, and then the rest of the time there’s still kind of a misogyny light going on and that is not the case. When you have [Gwyneth] Paltrow returning to play Pepper for a second time she’s not just going to be going, ‘Tony, don’t!’ or whatever. So, actually, in answer to your question of favorite scene, there was a scene where I go up to try and apologize to her for what a schmuck I’ve been and it doesn’t go so well. But actually it does. It solves the movie, but not…anyway.

Question: You guys built the biggest green screen ever at the Sepulveda Dam. Can you talk about filming that sequence and doing it there?

Downey: It was so strange. I don’t even know how to describe the size of it. Just like ‘Close Encounters’ size. That’s how I would describe. This unimaginably large set. Then they built pylons and other stuff there, but it was still essentially the Sepulveda Dam. This was about sixty days into the seventy two day shoot. Speaking of workers of amongst workers, that’s when I realized that we were doing a really huge movie. The rest of the time, as much as there were the bells and whistles and we had great sets and there was all kinds of action going, I realized that while we were doing this stuff somebody, well Mike Riva and everyone else in the construction department, had been building this thing all along for three days of shooting.

robert_downey_jr_iron_man_movie_image__3_.jpgQuestion: Were you surprised how big your cameo in Hulk was?

Downey: Yeah, it was fine. I think you call that piggy backing and I leave that to the experts at Marvel. Next time I’d like them to maybe buy me a cabin in Big Bear, but that’s really up to them, that cabin in Big Bear.

Question: Do you have any creative input into ‘Avengers’ and how that’s being put together?

Downey: Yeah. I’m in a really enviable position in that I’m a part of the creative team from its inception. This one really took a lot out of us because we knew we had to meet our own expectations and therefore the expectations of the people who made this film successful. So as far as ‘Avengers’ goes, that’s the mountain. That’s the mountain that would have to be carefully climbed, I guess. I love that I’m talking about these things as if it’s a NASA project. It’s a movie.

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