By: Elisabeth Rappe
First out of the gate is Iron Man himself! Allow me to have a fangirl moment as I must say that even staring at the back of Robert Downey Jr.'s head is a thrill. Plus my seat did allow me to get a good look at his awesome choice of footwear, which happened to be the most beautiful pair of lime green tennis shoes. The man is stylish, readers, and unfailingly kind with his time. Thanks to all the outlets present for asking cool questions. I wish I could credit you, but I honestly can't tell any of you apart once you're on my audio.
Q: I got a chance to visit you on set, and see you in action in this tight knit group. It was really incredible to watch ... how did that work?
Well, speaking of tight knit groups, then there's just kind of a certain brother and sisterhood of talent in what's otherwise kind of a small town. So, everyone knows Don, and everyone's seen the incredible work he's been doing over the years. I just have this problem where I tend to go up to people and they come join a project partially due to the fact that they figure that part of what made it work last time was my director and direct involvement. I feel really beholden to say to them "I guarantee you and I promise you that we will work our asses off to really pay this character off," what [they] could expect for coming to join us. And I guess the problem is, or the challenge was this time I was essentially saying that to three or four new people. Jon and I were telling Mickey that he wouldn't just play a two-dimensional nemesis. We were thrilled to get Scarlett, and we said "You're not just going to be like some kind of be some kind of like B Marvel spin-off." We want some hot chick to kick ass in this movie, and I think we manage that.
And with Sam, you know he's just such a gifted guy to come in -- obviously it's no secret that he's essentially filling the space that Tony's evacuated because he's says he's not going to make weapons anymore. So what's it like to be a "wannabe Tony Stark" and how does that add up. But the real one was with Don, of saying well, if we're saying that no man is an island thing, and the toughest part is always the guy who is like [launches into Cheadle impression] "Oh Tony, you should really not go it alone." But I think underneath it all too, it was always -- what I always got from the comic books was that if Tony and Rhodey were hanging out, it would be a toss-up which one of them would get laid first. And I think that in Don, with his wit and humor -- [when we were] just standing around outside screwing around a bit, just entertaining ourselves at each other's expense, he's someone who I feel we have a real repartee and ease. He's not intimidated by me really in any way. So I wanted to bring that to the screen as much as possible, while still having him have his own part, and trajectory, and all that.
Q: You talk about speaking to Mickey about taking the role. Did you have to really convince him to come on board?
Not really. The thing is that Iron Man sold itself here two years ago, and then contrary to number crunchers, it wound up then being a rousing success economically. So it was kind of a win-win situation -- if I had never been involved in it, and my agent was pitching "There going to do another Iron Man, and here are the opportunities." I think the convincing, or rather the conversation really centered more around .. you know [that] its not uncommon to be sold a bill of goods, and for one reason or another -- usually not lack of intention -- it doesn't pay off. I've been in that position dozens of times. So I think Jon and I, and Kevin and the Marvel folks, and pretty much everybody who was there last time, we knew as a creative coalition we really tended to be able to make good on what we hoped we could provide.
It sounds as if you have, or that you feel you have a heavy responsibility for the character and for the franchise at this point. Do you reconcile that with it being a leading role or is it an evolution of [unintelligible]
I do, but rarely. I tend to just think of it as just something that is really this kind of unspoiled arena of activity in a very wonderful, treacherous, industry.
Mr. Downey, is Tony's health in trouble? I noticed [in the footage that] there was a spidering across his chest?
You might be onto something.
One of the things that always perplexes superhero movies is that you spend a lot of time introducing a character as to who he is, what he does. Now you're on the second one. How do you liberate it from that?
Well, I'll end with this ... Usually the origin story is the most interesting story because you get to see someone becoming who they [are], love them once they are, and so again, we just upped the stakes. He has to be dealing with things that are more pertinent than his immediate survival. He has to be exposed to things that are beyond the realm of his understanding even for someone as bright as he is, and those are all there. So we didn't have to reach or create anything, it's kind of like, you know, you can't tell a story any better than the way it really happened. So we just started looking back in the stories, and then creating an amalgam of those, and we really didn't take ourselves seriously at all, but we took the storytelling really, really, really seriously. I'm going to press on. I tell you, that I love you!