The mercurial actor not only starred in the box-office sensation "Iron Man," he now has a spectacular scene-chewing role in "Tropic Thunder," the new No. 1 film at the box office (and recent Public Enemy No. 1 to protesters). Downey is a wonderful nut, an American treasure as far as I’m concerned, and I can tell you firsthand that interviewing him is a dizzying and exhausting experience. The man is one relentless riff.
Take this tongue-in-cheek rant I just read over at indelicately named website Moviehole.net:
"My whole thing is that that I saw ‘The Dark Knight.’ I feel like I’m dumb because I feel like I don’t get how many things that are so smart. It’s like a Ferrari engine of storytelling and script writing and I’m like, ‘That’s not my idea of what I want to see in a movie.’ I loved ‘The Prestige’ but didn’t understand ‘The Dark Knight.’ Didn’t get it, still can’t tell you what happened in the movie, what happened to the character and in the end they need him to be a bad guy. I’m like, ‘I get it. This is so high brow and so f—ing smart, I clearly need a college education to understand this movie.’ You know what? F— DC comics. That’s all I have to say and that’s where I’m really coming from."
Was he serious? I doubt that. I know Perez Hilton and his readers are taking this as gospel, but they weren’t sitting at the Warren Beatty tribute a few months ago when RDJ wove a long, raunchy, insulting and completely fabricated tale about the guest of honor — which everyone, including Beatty, loved. I think this rant was every bit as real as "Celebrity Deathmatch." Read the rest here or, better, check out this extended excerpt from the really excellent profile of Downey by Erik Hedegaard in the latest issue of Rolling Stone. (The newstand version is worth the money, it has interesting stuff on Jon Favreau championing Downey for the "Iron Man" role too, which is not in the abridged online version.)
It’s an extremely well-written piece. Here’s a section about Downey’s role in "Tropic Thunder," coming right off "Iron Man":
"A lot of people do big movies back to back," Stiller said, trying to convince him. "Yeah," said Downey, "but I’m not a lot of people. I’ve got to be careful here." Once on board, though, he apparently went all out. "We all have our demons and stuff," says Stiller, "but I’ve never seen anybody get lit for the acting moment as much as him. He was in a crazy zone and totally committed to his character." So committed that he occasionally stayed black even when black wasn’t called for. "We’d be watching a monitor, and he just kept going on about ‘I’m going to get me some barbecued ribs and chicken,’ and I’m like, ‘No, man, you can’t do that. You gotta stop that, for real,’ " says Brandon T. Jackson, one of the only black actors on the project. "But he just kept on, and then when we were doing the scene where I get pissed off at him, all that stuff just came out there, and magic happened. I don’t know, but I think in his genius he was just trying to egg me on."
I can’t wait to see what Favreau and Downey come up with for the "Iron Man" sequel. The great problem they face is the lack of truly memorable villains in "Iron Man." It’s not exactly Batman or Spider-Man’s rogues gallery. There were several hints dropped in the first film that suggest the bad guy will be the Mandarin, most notably the face that the terrorist group who took Tony Stark captive was called "The Ten Rings," a clear reference to the sinister Mandarin’s collection of super-powered hand jewelry. Boy, it sounds kind of silly when you just type it out like that, doesn’t it?
– Geoff Boucher
BONUS Check out the hysterical "viral video" for "Tropic Thunder" that Stiller, Downey and Jack Black made for the MTV Movie Awards this summer.
UPDATE An early version of this post had the name of Moviehole.net as Moviehole.com. We made it right but the name still sounds icky.
Photo: Cover image of Rolling Stone magazine issue No. 1059. Credit: Wenner Media