One of the most commercially successful actors in recent history, Robert Downey Jr. rose to prominence as the iconic Marvel superhero Iron Man. Despite having appeared in various other projects like David Fincher’s gripping thriller Zodiac and Ben Stiller’s satirical gem Tropic Thunder, it was his long-running job of portraying Iron Man that received global attention as well as adoration from millions of fans.
“I had an incredible ten-year run that was creatively satisfying. It was very, very, very hard work and I dug very deep, but I have not been forced to explore the new frontier of what is my creative and personal life after this,” Robert Downey Jr. said when he was asked about his thoughts on leaving the franchise. “Occasionally you would pull back from it and go, ‘Let me stop, let me get off the teat of this archetype and let me see where I stand.’ And you can feel really buffeted, you can get really spun out by it.”
Adding, “First thing you learn in theatre arts: Aesthetic distance. I am not this play I’m doing. I’m not a character in The Fantasticks. I’m not Will from Oklahoma. Aesthetic distance. It’s job one. I’m not my work. I’m not what I did with that studio.
“I’m not that period of time that I spent playing this character. And it sucks because the kid in all of us wants to be like, ‘No! It’s always gonna be summer camp and we’re all holding hands and singing kumbaya. Isn’t it?’ It’s like, ‘no! Snap out of it.'”
However, Robert Downey Jr. does not consider his extremely successful involvement with Marvel as the pinnacle of his career. Instead, he attributes that particular title to a completely unexpected addition to his extensive and widely celebrated filmography. According to the actor, this was his breakthrough film which landed him his part in Marvel’s project.
Downey Jr. surprised everyone by citing his participation in Shane Black’s 2005 debut feature Kiss Kiss Bang Bang as the pivotal moment in the trajectory of his career. In the film, he stars as a thief who successfully manages to enter the notoriously exclusive world of Hollywood by masquerading actual guilt as method acting.
In an interview, the actor maintained that he would never have reached new heights without Black’s comedy: “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, which is, I think, in some ways the best film I’ve ever done. It wound up being a calling card. It came out, and it bombed, but Jon Favreau saw it, and he said, ‘This guy could do an action movie.’ And so that wound up being my calling card into the Marvel Universe.”