In a recent interview with The New York Times Magazine, Robert Downey Jr., arguably one of the most influential actors of our era, thanks in large part to his pivotal role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, shared a thought-provoking perspective on the highlights of his 25-year career post-rehabilitation.
Surprisingly, his picks weren't any of his outings as Iron Man but rather, The Shaggy Dog and Dolittle. The Shaggy Dog, a 2006 comedy where Tim Allen morphs into a canine, signaled a turning point for Downey. It was this film that convinced Disney to take a gamble on him and insure him, a move that later enabled the production of the groundbreaking film, Iron Man.
In retrospect, one could say it laid the groundwork for his transformative role as Tony Stark.
Dolittle: Downey's 'Squandered Opportunity
Dolittle, on the other hand, is remembered as a notorious 2020 box-office flop, marking Downey's first performance post-Avengers: Endgame, and the first character he portrayed apart from Tony Stark since The Judge in 2014.
Downey refers to Dolittle as “a two-and-a-half-year wound of squandered opportunity,” a project salvaged to a bearable extent by his wife and producing partner, Susan Downey. However, the failure of Dolittle provoked a critical "reset of priorities" for Downey and his wife, compelling them to scrutinize their closest business advisors.
Concurrently, Downey was coping with his father's terminal illness, which spurred him to create Sr., a deeply personal documentary about his father, Robert Downey Sr. Downey Jr. regards this as "the most important thing" he will ever do.
Intriguingly, Downey also broached the topic of movies as "content" during his New York Times Magazine feature. For him, Sr. is "content" because, despite its intimate significance to him, it remains a viewer's choice to engage with it.
To illustrate, he listed Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows and Back To School as "not content," while Avengers: Age Of Ultron is. Rather than indicating a critique of the MCU, Downey explained that categorizing something as "content" provides an emotional buffer from audience opinions, underscoring that the perceived importance of a project can vary greatly depending on who's viewing.
This notion may explain his vested interest in audience reaction to Back To School and Game Of Shadows. Beyond this, Downey's New York Times Magazine feature was peppered with other profound insights, offering a glimpse into the mindset of an actor known for a single iconic character, now set to tackle the challenge of a Christopher Nolan film.