Paramount Pictures debuted footage from Iron Man to a packed crowd of comic book and movie fans at the 2007 San Diego Comic Con, the place for studios to test the waters with teases of their upcoming movies. Judging by the positive reaction, director Jon Favreau, Robert Downey Jr and the rest of the cast have created an Iron Man movie fans are ready to get behind.
After speaking to an audience of 6,500 enthusiastic Comic Con attendees, Robert Downey Jr (Tony Stark/Iron Man) sat down for a quick interview with a few members of the media.
Are you sad that filming has wrapped on Iron Man? Do you miss playing Tony Stark?
“I wouldn’t wish this on an enemy, but I went right from this and two weeks later I was shooting in Kauai with Ben Stiller and Jack Black. That is fantastic. But wrapping something that was this epic and going into pre-production and makeup tests and starting something so soon… But if truth be told it was ideal because the crash from this would have been so hard that I probably would have been in my head, ‘Am I Tony? I’m not Tony. I’ve got to be Tony again!’”
What did you like about Tony Stark?
“What person are you talking to? (Laughing) Because honestly, I got geared up again. I showed up again and I’m putting on the suit from the movie and was kind of playing with my hair in the bathroom and [producer] Avi Arad walks in… He’s the whole reason that there’s this studio to do this movie. I’m just with him and it’s a big can and I was in the handicapped bathroom like, taking my boots and putting them back on and he came in and he’s like, ‘It played really good Thursday, really good.’ I just said, ‘Wow,’ and started talking about some other movie that a friend of his is doing that I should read. I’m going like, ‘I’ve heard of people’s careers being enhanced and forwarded in convention room bathrooms,’ But anyway, so then I said, ‘But back to business and I’ve got to get it up.’ They just unveiled the Mark 1 suit and I kind of was like overwhelmed and [director Jon] Favreau’s all P.T. Barnum. He’s digging it. I’m like, ‘He’s been here for three days so he knows the drill.’ I just came in and I was kind of like struck dumb! I was like, ‘How do you get out of this?’ Just [act like Iron Man] for two hours. I know I know how to do that.”
You’ve haven’t been on the Convention Center floor at Comic Con with all the fans, have you?
“Never. I will never. You know what it’s like. It’s massive. It’s a true democracy. With a lot of chaos in there, too. I get why it’s become so popular, not that it wasn’t popular before, but why it’s become so integral to marketing and approval and all that. But, you know, it’s that thing. It’s like talking about surfing. How do you know until you paddle out and catch that first wave, what it really feels like. It’s so energetic and wild and chaotic. [Shaking his head in wonderment] And I’m walking there in the Tony Stark suit with security guards pushing baby carriages out of the way so I can get to my signing…”
Did you feel any extra pressure while you were acting knowing how many Iron Man fans you had to satisfy?
“I mean, there’s always that point in any process where you feel the pressure. That’s self-centered fear. In this case I think it was like I just became a geek for Iron Man myself. And the added value is that I think I got the chops to be able to pull it off. But they’re in pre-production and I got an office. My production office is in these Quonset huts by where Howard Hughes assembled the Spruce Goose and there was a lot of energy there. I’d roam around from one thing to the next and I’d talk to the Art Department, and I’d be hanging with all these just monsters of cinema and effects and storytelling and cinematography, and so I really soaked it up. I was just like you know, ‘What do I need to do?’ And half the time I was swilling Creatine and working on my arms for those eleven seconds in the trailer where I’m like [roars]. I will never be that muscular again. I was swollen up and now I’ve shrunk up again. It’s nice not to be carrying those extra pounds. For me, my arms being like one centimeter bigger, means I’m swollen up.”
What made you decide you wanted to do this role?
“I’m not a kid anymore externally, and if you’re going to do something like this, you want to do it while there’s a very low embarrassment factor age-wise. It’s also Jon Favreau. That guy is a national treasure and to be able to do something like this with him, and maybe have the opportunity to do it a couple more times, it’s a no-brainer.”
Are you ready to see your face plastered all over toys?
“Sure, why not? I want a big Happy Meal. Scratch that, we’re with Burger King. I don’t even know what a Happy Meal is. A passive reference…”
Did you have any complaints when it came time to suit up in the armor?
“We took turns complaining. There’s two other guys and I’d come in on the day that he was shooting second unit. And he’d be like laid out in a pool of sweat and still like in half in the suit. He’d just be like [groaning], ‘Dude…’ He’d be like, ‘You’re on tomorrow, right?’ And I’d be like, ‘I’m on, dude. We’re going to do the close-ups and I’ll swing through the thing.’ He goes, ‘Cool!’ We had like a support group. He’d come in the next day, he’d be like, ‘Man, you cool? Can I get you something?’ I was like, ‘Maybe an Advil,’ and then we’d both go visit the third guy.”
You’ve done such a variety of films and genres. After Iron Man are you ready to go back to smaller, independent films for a while?
“What? There are no small movies (laughing). After the trailer played the first time, I was so tripped out and excited and like proud and just to get that reaction. I mean, I started off in theater and that was kind of like putting a whole play of everything 400 people at the top of their field can do best and putting it all in this little package and playing it for thousands of people who get it and are really critical and understand, really, really understand what makes things like that work or not. It was like I don’t know how to say it. It was the magic bullet. Suffice to say.”
Which Tony Stark do you prefer? The ultimate?
“I’m a modernist, but the origins are great. I’m an equal opportunity destroyer.”