‘Marvel’ Star Robert Downey Jr. Revealed How Dangerous Filming ‘Iron Man’ Actually Was: ‘I Felt Like I Was In a Mine Field’

Robert Downey Jr. might be best known for playing Tony Stark in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The actor has held plenty of other roles as well, but Tony Stark has built a legacy among Marvel fans.

There are plenty of action scenes throughout the movie, but what fans might not know is that they weren’t all fake — and some were incredibly dangerous.

Robert Downey Jr. at the People's Choice Awards in 2019
Robert Downey Jr. at the People’s Choice Awards in 2019 | Alberto Rodriguez/E! Entertainment/NBCU Photo Bank

Those who have read the Marvel comics might know that Tony Stark wasn’t actually one of the main Marvel characters. Rather, he was referred to as more of a “B-List” superhero in the comic books. He was never supposed to become what he did.

However, Marvel producers wanted to bring more attention to Tony Stark and portrayed him as someone the series couldn’t be without. And Downey is the one who brought him to life. Downey never expected Stark to become arguably the series’ favorite superhero. But his confident demeanor mixed with his sarcastic attitude meant he was not only a great superhero but also a person of whom fans kept wanting more.

Robert Downey Jr. in Berlin, Germany, in 2016
Robert Downey Jr. in Berlin, Germany, in 2016 | Matthias Nareyek/Getty Images

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Robert Downey Jr. once revealed the dangers of filming — and that it felt like a ‘mine field’

Downey’s character saw plenty of drama throughout the films. Tony Stark often found himself in sticky situations, including in Iron Man 3, when his house completely fell off the side of its Malibu cliff during an attack. Surprisingly, though, the explosions seen in the movie aren’t all fake. And Downey revealed that the set actually had the potential to be an incredibly dangerous place.

“You want to know why I was running my a** off?” Downey said to YouTube star Chuck the Movie Guy in 2008. “They had like, you know, 30-gallon drums of kerosene, and plant bombs and all. That entire day, I felt like I was in a mine field.” Downey was describing the explosion scene when Stark initially got injured during the first “Iron Man” film.

Downey also said that director Jon Favreau “had to make it feel real,” and that he told Downey, “I’m not gonna do anything fake in back of you.”

Robert Downey Jr. and Jon Favreau in 2019
Robert Downey Jr. and Jon Favreau in 2019 | The Walt Disney Company/Image Group LA/Getty Images

Robert Downey Jr. said he had to change his attitude in order to get the role

Downey looks back on the role today and feels thankful he was able to leave such a legacy in such an important movie series. But when it came to his actual audition, he had to rethink his confidence level in order to secure the role.

“There was a part of me that was saying, ‘My world view has to change if I want to really have a shot,’” Downey said in a 2019 interview with Howard Stern. “If I’m not on my side for this going my way, why should anybody else be?” His approach to confidence worked, and he got the role. “But that’s the funny thing about confidence … The incorrect amount of it, and nothing will ever happen,” he added.