Japan Today

Up and Downey

By Chris Betros

Robert Downey Jr has been waiting four months to come to Japan to promote his hit movie "Iron Man," which has been a hit almost everywhere else. Actually, he’s been waiting 25 years to have a year like he is having in 2008. Not only has "Iron Man" catapulted him back into the big time, but his newest film, "Tropic Thunder," in which he fittingly plays a character named Lazarus, is also earning rave reviews.

“I’m at a really good time in my life. I figured after 25 years of making movies, I was bound to have one good year,” said the 43-year-old star during a recent visit to Japan, his first since coming here to promote "Chaplin" back in 1993. Sporting a somewhat unkempt hairstyle, mustache and sunglasses, Downey said he agreed to star in "Iron Man" – his first real action movie – “because I was tired of being in movies that nobody saw.”

His movies may not have been drawing audiences over the past 15 years, but the New York-born actor has frequently been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. A well-publicized incident at age six when his father offered him some marijuana at a party seemed to be a harbinger of things to come. Highly rated as an actor in films such as "Chaplin," "Natural Born Killers" and "Richard III," Downey started to go downhill in the mid-1990s, being arrested several times on drug and alcohol abuse-related charges. In between prison stays, he joined the popular TV series "Ally McBeal," winning a Golden Globe in the process. But he was arrested again and subsequently fired from the show in 2001.

Downey, who said he has been clean since then, has slowly picked up the pieces of his career and life, and even though he thinks no one goes to see his work, he has appeared in some critically acclaimed films, among them "The Singing Detective," "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang," "Good Night and Good Luck" and "Zodiac."

Then came "Iron Man," the Marvel Comics superhero about billionaire industrialist Tony Stark who suffers a severe heart injury during a kidnapping and resolves to fight crime with a high-tech power suit.

“There is no one reason why a movie is successful,” said Downey. “It’s a lot of people doing their job really well at the same time. I noticed, though, that women like this movie. That makes a big difference at the box office. Women have been coming up to me, saying that they took their mother to see 'Iron Man.'”

Downey also said "Iron Man" has much more appeal than other comic book superheroes. “The story is in the realm of possibility. You don’t have a guy who was bitten by a spider or someone with a bat fetish. Tony Stark just uses technology to build something.”

Downey said he and director Jon Favreau are already discussing two more films in the series. “The next one will be about what is beneath the armor and Stark’s psyche. For Part 3, we might explore the idea of a suit that is inside his DNA, so he doesn’t have to put it on and take it off.”

Meanwhile, Downey is making up for lost time. The Ben Stiller-directed war parody "Tropic Thunder" (which opens in Japan in mid-November) has him cast as a platoon’s African-American leader, and is going great guns at the box office overseas. Next, he will star as Sherlock Holmes in Guy Ritchie’s action-oriented film about the famous detective. “My mental state is the best it’s been in five years. I’m more confident and focused on my work than I’ve ever been,” he said.

© Japan Today

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To bad in America the DVD will come out in September 30. Tropic Thunder is funny!!!! Go check it out!!!! But Ironman looks alittle like Ultraman ??? Hmmmmmmm

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Ultra ironman dekaranger movie? now that is a concept!

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Ironman was first, and he's much shorter than Ultraman LOL. Ironman is a great film by the way. Look forward to seeing Tropic Thunder. Speaking of Ultraman, did JT even mention the new Ultraman movie coming out, with, I believe, 8 of the brothers appearing. Sounds like fun.

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Ironman looks alittle like Ultraman

I think it was the dialogue which won over the viewers.

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Already saw it on the airplane. I wouldn't pay for it.

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Is he playing Einstein in his next film?

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Iron Man is OK - saw it on a flight last month, a JAL flight! But I would wait for the DVD rental rather than pay 1,800 yen to see it in the movie theatre

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In this photo he almost looks like a young Edward James Olmos (of Battlestar Galactica fame). He has always been a very good, underrated actor.

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loved him in "natural born killers"! ming? miiiiinnnnnnnng!!!!

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Thunder is funny but go see Iron Man. You won't be disappointed.

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Pivot: he'll be playing an action Einstein.

Watch as he battles Nazis while trying to condense his equation on the chalkboard down to E=M*c^2.

Thrill as he teeters on a cliff edge as he lectures his students about relativity.

And wipe a stray tear from your eye at the heartbreak of a lowly patent office worker struggling to keep his coworkers from being driven crazy with jealousy at his massive brain.

Then he'll punch out Stalin with a manly blow.

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