Robert Downey Jr. GQ May 2013
Robert Downey Jr. is featured on the cover of GQ's May issue, available on newsstands everywhere April 23. In the cover story, now available on GQ.com, Downey Jr. welcomes GQ's Chris Heath into his Malibu home to reflect on the ups and downs of his long career--from lessons learned in prison, to his brushes with death, to later becoming one of Hollywood's most revered actors ("I am probably one of the best," he says). With the upcoming Iron Man 3 poised to extend the star's streak of success, Downey Jr. makes it clear that there is still much we should expect from him, including Oscar wins, work as a director, and more.
Robert Downey Jr. on his acting abilities and that of the current generation of actors: "I'm probably one of the best. ...But it's not that big a deal. It's not like this is the greatest swath or generation of actors that has ever come down the pike."
...on his being a regular guy: "Nothing pleases me more than when somebody who was awe-inspired to be working with me realizes I'm just another schmuck that they're bored of hanging out with on a set. I love that moment. I like it when that persistent illusion is smashed."
...on the inevitability of his winning an Oscar: "I, personally, would be shocked if we went to the end of the tape now and I didn't have at least one. ...Because I'm young enough, and I'm running down being occupied with these kind of genre movies, close enough. Even the next thing we're doing with [my wife], I'm so confident about it. It's the best script the studio has; it's the best thing I've read in years. You know, honestly, my real answer to that is: I don't care. I used to think I cared, and I couldn't care less. Now, I'm not saying I wouldn't get a little choked up, but it is amazing to see how people are literally hyperventilating when they get up there, because they have such an attachment to this outcome. I mean, it's not like we're at the fucking Olympics or something. ...Look, even if I don't get one directly, eventually they're just going to have to give me one when I get old. So no matter how you slice it, I'm getting one."
...on the success of Iron Man and The Avengers: Downey has taken pride in being deeply involved in every stage of the solo Iron Man movies, but for The Avengers he fitted into Joss Whedon's wider vision. "I really just showed up, hit my marks," he says. "Joss would write some lines or I would come up with a line. It was very easy--it was so easy I didn't see how it could work." Whatever contract Downey signed when he agreed to appear in multiple movies as Iron Man allowed him a share of The Avengers' payday far bigger than anyone could have anticipated. The Hollywood Reporter recently suggested that the true figure was around $50 million. It's not the kind of thing most actors are prepared to talk about, but I ask Downey anyway.
"Yeah," he says, smiling.
Is that number about right?
"Yeah." A broader smile.
"Isn't that crazy?" he says. "They're so pissed. I can't believe it. I'm what's known as 'a strategic cost.' "
...on his desire to compose music and direct a Halloween-themed film in which he plays a Village Voice reporter: "You know, I really miss composing music, writing music. And I want to direct--I think I'd do a pretty good job. Nobody has cornered Halloween as a market since Halloween. I will say only this: I am a Village Voice reporter on the run."
...on knowing what will and won't work: "I'm very good at deconstructing. I'm a very good troubleshooter for why something is unlikely to work. And most everything is unlikely to work."
GQ's Chris Heath on how Robert Downey Jr.'s persistence landed him the role in Iron Man: Even after the film's director, Jon Favreau, passed on the word from Marvel that it wasn't going to happen, Downey refused to listen. (Favreau later explained that Marvel had actually been even more definite: "Under no circumstances are we prepared to hire him for any price.") Downey persisted nonetheless, and eventually he was told he'd at least get a screen test.
Cover photo, Credit: Peggy Sirota / GQ.