Robert Downey Jr says his ‘best work’ as Iron Man ‘went a little bit unnoticed’

Robert Downey Jr says his ‘best work’ as Iron Man ‘went a little bit unnoticed’

Robert Downey Jr has reflected on his time as Iron Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), arguing that the strength of his perfomances “went a little bit unnoticed because of the genre”.

The 58-year-old played Tony Stark and his armoured superhero alter ego in 10 MCU movies, starting with 2008’s Iron Man and culminating with 2019's Avengers: Endgame.

The following year, Downey Jr took the lead role in the big-budget family movie Dolittle, a noted critical and box office flop.

Speaking on Rob Lowe’s podcast Literally!, Downey Jr said that experience was a chastening one. “I felt so exposed after being in the cocoon of Marvel where I think I did some of the best work I will ever do, but it went a little bit unnoticed because of the genre.”

“[I] did myself a favor, because the rug was pulled so definitively out from underneath me and all the things that I was leaning on as opposed to what my understanding of confidence and security was, boy did they evaporate. And it rendered me teachable.”

Downey Jr did not release any film projects in 2021, before returning with the 2022 documentary “Sr.” , which examined his relationship with his filmmaker father Robert Downey Sr.

Robert Downey Jr as Iron Man (Zade Rosenthal/ Marvel)
Robert Downey Jr as Iron Man (Zade Rosenthal/ Marvel)

He then played Lewis Strauss in Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer, an acclaimed performance for which he recently won a Golden Globe. He is considered a frontrunner in the Best Supporting Actor category at this year’s Oscars.

Last year, Downey Jr’s Oppenheimer co-star Cillian Murphy called him the most “electrifying actor I’ve ever worked with”.

In an interview with GQ, Murphy said: “A lot of the scenes I have with Downey, it was quite loose and quite improvisational.

“I mean, acting with him was was was was just extraordinary. He’s just electrifying, the most available engaged, present, unpredictably brilliant actor I’ve ever worked with.”

Downey Jr currently holds two Academy Award nominations, which he received for his role as Charlie Chaplin in Richard Attenborough’s 1991 biopic, Chaplin, and for his comedic role in Ben Stiller’s satirical war comedy Tropic Thunder (2008).

In an interview last year with The New York Times, the actor said he was happy to have “regained my connection with a more purist approach to making movies”.

“Dolittle was a two-and-a-half-year wound of squandered opportunity,” he said.

“Then old Chris Nolan calls, and getting to see the spartan, almost monastic way he approaches this art form, it was like going to the other side of the moon.”