Quint gets a ten minute meeting at Comic-Con with Tony Stark himself, Mr. Robert Downey Jr.!!!
Published at: July 30, 2007, 11:58 a.m. CST by quint
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. Okay, now this is probably the second biggest geek awe moment interview of the Con. The first was Peter Fonda (that’s a holy shit awesome interview that’ll pop up in the next couple of days) and now Robert Downey Jr.
I won’t say anything more other than I think this turned out pretty damn good. Enjoy and look out for sound-o-text links (and yes, I know I say “yeah” a lot… you probably do, too… and yes, I know a giggle like Amadeus… gimme a break, will ya’? I’m a geek, afterall!)
Robert Downey Jr.: Having never been here, I was stoked on the drive over and then we’re in this little box room and there was the video game and the guys from SEGA and I’m like “cool, cool” and then there was [Adi] Granov and I’m like, “dude…” I’m hugging Adi and then all of a sudden we go out and I’m just standing there with Jon [Favreau] and there’s a mic in my hand and I’m like “I don’t know what this…” I was still taking it in and luckily “PT Barnum” got us through.
Quint: That’s awesome. I saw the footage on the Paramount panel. It’s really the best footage of the CON so far and I think they’re running it again on the Marvel panel, yeah?
Robert Downey Jr.: Yeah, which will be my first time seeing it.
Quint: The word has spread now. Every time someone asks “what have you seen that’s great?” and I always hear “ehh… Oh IRON MAN! IRON MAN!” Last year 300 was the talk of the CON and I think IRON MAN is this year’s,
Robert Downey Jr.: Wow.
Quint: So you’re in good company.
Robert Downey Jr.: I’m so stoked and by the way, just because I know you or rather think I do, our wind down is webbing around checking out the contributors and stuff, so I feel like I know you, from your point of view.
Quint: Well good, I hope I haven’t written something that has pissed you off then.
Robert Downey Jr.: There’s plenty of time for that… you don’t have to decide today.
Quint: Let’s talk about IRON MAN before they pull you away to the panel. One thing that I love about Tony Stark, as a character… Iron Man has many villains, but from the beginning his worst and most threatening villain has always been himself.
Robert Downey Jr.: Totally.
Quint: And I can imagine how attractive that must be to you as an actor, to play a super hero that is really more about fighting his own demons…
Robert Downey Jr.: I’d guess so, and I mean why I’m such a geek and multiple nerd-gasm recipient in my own right, is because I love mythology and where technology and mythology and science come together is… I think is kind of where the IRON MAN niche is really comfortable, which really means it is about man and his own development and all the gack and stuff like that, that I trip on, plus there’s that real testosterone edge, like I’m strung out on the military channel and I love watching all of those things… They’re like “Dog fights,” and I’m like “Stop what you’re doing!” and I watch those recreations and stuff and I feel like it’s just kind of in my blood and I don’t know if it’s because my grandfather was a war vet or if it’s just kind of a guy thing, but I think it’s that urge and I don’t want to say that we have been a little bit neutered in the 21st century, but there’s something about that desire to do that kind of one on one good vs. evil stuff, you know?
Quint: Yeah. It’s weird how that’s kind of ingrained on you though, because my grandfather was a pilot in World War II and it literally is… it’s like turning on a movie when you go visit and listen to his stories…
Robert Downey Jr.: And yet it was literally just one click back… right before the jet age and so it’s like “You didn’t know what it was like before,” and then you hear the Korean jet guys like “We have nothing before the F-Series came in,” but I think there’s a lot to be said for that. I mean, obviously it was generated, and Stan Lee said he kind of did it on a dare in the Vietnam era, but to me it does go back almost to World War II a bit as well as the Vietnam kids…
A lot of the things were happening around the time that I was born, like around my third or fourth birthday and you think about that. You know, everyone says “mid-century World War II… There will never be men like that again,” but there was so many Vietnam vets, but there was also that turn against the military industrial complex and so where are we now and they say “oh, we can’t even buy in to what our military efforts are now,” but if you just put your mind and heart in the space of a soldier on behalf of his country, or a single entity with unlimited resources, who has a change of heart and wants to do what a good soldier would do. I can’t even really get into that, dude.
Quint: Yeah, I saw that change of heart in the footage a bit. After your attack and imprisonment it seems that really rolls back the pompous mindset. I love seeing a broad arc like that. I love seeing it, but Favreau was saying that with the presentation here he was selling you just as much as he was selling the suit and that was his plan, to make sure everybody knew that you are Tony Stark. Do you feel any pressure at all tackling this?
Robert Downey Jr.: You know when I felt the pressure in gearing up to screen test for it and I felt the pressure in pre-production, but I just took it off. You know what it’s like, if you see fear, head for it, so I just said “I want an office at production offices” and I really tried to make sure that I was on top of it and you know, anybody can train really hard and try to not look like a shlub, but I really felt by the time we started, and a lot of that was down to the great people we had and the great renderings and art and pre-viz and all that stuff that we had, so by the time we started I honestly… I was just down in the bathroom changing out of my leather jacket signing look into an actual Tony Stark suit and I just looked at it and said “I don’t know if I’m a little tweaked on this too much, but it’s like I feel like I’m… (laughs) like I’m him today a little bit,” and it’s being reinforced…
Quint: But you don’t have the glowing chest…
Robert Downey Jr.: Wouldn’t that have been a bit much though if I had? There’s the RT... that would have been like, “maybe he still doesn’t think he’s the guy, so he’s prop-ing up…”
Quint: Hey, Brando would have done it…
Robert Downey Jr.: He would have, wouldn’t he? Yeah, but he also would have given you cookies made out of tree bark and put on a hundred and sixty pounds between shooting and the COMIC-CON. He would have been his own booth.
Quint: Yes, he would have been the attraction.
Robert Downey Jr.: God bless him…It’s funny you said that though, because I remember being a kid and how deeply the SUPERMAN, with Brando in it, affected me and I always kind of think of IRON MAN as a little bit like if Robert Altman had directed SUPERMAN, like when I… and there’s just a glimpse of it here, but we really kind of started off with a pretty strong text and then we workshopped it and we thought about it a lot and… no pressure back at you, but we were thinking about the likes of you fellas and what you would think about every stage of the way… We executed things and while some of it is so straight forward that that might be what’s a little bit surprising, our execution of a really basic origin story, I think that’s the part we did to the best of our ability.
Quint: I think Favreau has always been smart with effects and with him wanting to keep it as real as possible, because most people… a lot of directors would have just used the excuse of having CG any time the suit is on… You look at Lucas and the prequels, any time there’s a clone trooper, it’s always CG and you can tell there’s a disconnect. Do you think that that helped you, to have something to wear and actually interact with?
Robert Downey Jr: I’d guess so, I mean I was a lot more gung-ho about doing everything practical before I and the other three stunt guys… because I’ll just consider myself stuntman number 4… like the apprentice stuntman… We were all getting torn back and shot out and bruised up and exhausted, but we knew that it was for a good cause. I don’t know that, should we do several more of these, that we wouldn’t try to do something a little bit different, you know?
Mo-Cap is really good. When I was looking at the bids from the different houses for this, I was amazed at how the ones, who you can tell that what that was was a painted guy really doing it, which is in some ways better than just straight CGI. I don’t know, my education is just starting and I think maybe one of the things that qualified me for this, possibly above everything else, is A) I’m crazy about Favreau, so I’d do anything for him and B) He gave me this great opportunity and C) I am a huge movie fan. I love even bad movies. I can’t call it a bad movie, I loved CHUD… I love movies and…
Quint: CHUD is not a bad movie.
Robert Downey Jr: It’s not a bad movie, is it?
Quint: No, it’s actually a really fuckin’ good movie. I bought the DVD. I’ve re-watched it and it still holds up.
Robert Downey Jr: OK, see?
Quint: Well, there are bad movies, like Uwe Boll movies… Those are bad ones, but then there are movies that, if you are enjoying them, they’re not bad. Tarantino has a saying about those movies, “If I enjoy them and they do their job, then they’re not bad movies.” So there’s no such thing as a guilty pleasure movie for me. If I like it, I like it.
Robert Downey Jr.: And we got off too, you know, because there’s a lot of scenes where we would say “Here we go… here’s that scene in that thing in the press conference and he’s got to come up and say ‘In my heart I know that it’s time for me to stand…’” and I was like, should we go and go “oh, well what can it not be?” and we would make a list and then Jon and I would write or enhance what was on the page and by the skin of our freaking teeth it’s the truth…
Quint: Well, you know I haven’t asked this question yet, but I’ve been meaning to find one good person to ask for a dirty joke and I think that you would probably be the one.
Robert Downey Jr.: I can’t give you a dirty joke, necessarily, but I can tell you my favorite joke.
Robert Downey Jr.: I heard it when I was fifteen in Ellingham Germany… don’t ask me why I was there… It was told to me by a German teenager. He said, and we were pretty hammered, “What is difference between elephant and hippopotamus?” I said… and he said “there is no difference, they are both silly.”
Robert Downey Jr.: You know that kind of joke.
Well, consider me shocked. Favreau… he’s a geek. I’ve known that for years, so I expect him to follow the site in some manner, but I didn’t expect to hear that Downey was a reader as well. Maybe he isn’t and just wanted to inflate my ego, but I can say that his geeky energy was apparent during the interview. I think you can hear some of it coming through in the audio.
The good vibes keep on rolling. This could be amazing. Hope you dug the interview. I have some catch-up to play on the plane back to Austin tomorrow. Look for more interviews and panel coverage, including my thoughts on the new Hulk design and the next Narnia flick. Stay tuned!