Robert Downey Jr. ‘Will Never Say the Same Line Twice’ According to ‘Avengers: Endgame’ Director Joe Russo

Robert Downey Jr. had a unique way of portraying Tony Stark aka Iron Man in Avengers: Endgame.

According to Joe Russo who directed the record-breaking blockbuster film with his brother, Anthony Russo, (the pair are known professionally as the Russo Brothers) Downey Jr. never said the same line twice while shooting scenes for the movie. Continue reading to learn how exactly the 54-year-old actor approached his scenes as Tony Stark and Iron Man. Warning: spoiler alerts ahead!

How actors made set fun for directors

While in Chicago, Ill., Russo attended a Talks at Google event as part of the “We Love You 3000” Tour, which ended on Aug. 25 after nine stops around the country

Speaking to fans at a local Best Buy, Russo talked about Avengers: Endgame and how every actor came to set with a different way of portraying their character and approaching the script.

The director said the variety made days on set — which can get grueling spending hours shooting the same scene over and over again — fun and interesting. 

“We love all different processes, and I think that’s part of what’s fun is having so many great actors on this film is that they all bring a different process to it. And it keeps it exciting as a director because every day someone else is showing up,” Russo told the audience and moderator Karen Sauder.

He continued, saying that Scarlett Johansson who played Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow in Avengers: Endgame and her co-star, Chris Evans, who played Steve Rogers or Captain America, were both very technical in the way they approached a scene. Sometimes Johansson and Evans only needed one take, Russo added. 

Robert Downey Jr.’s process and how he manages to ‘never says the same line twice’

Russo talked specifically about Downey Jr.’s unusual process of never repeating a line and how he manages to do so. The actor who has played Iron Man since the Avengers movie franchise began in 2008, has honed his process over the last decade. 

“Downey will never say the same line twice. He’s got a really unique process where he has an earwig in and he has an assistant who has been working with him for years,” Russo said. 

He continued, saying Downey Jr. and the writers came up with other lines for his character ahead of time.

Robert Downey Jr.
Robert Downey Jr. | Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

“And what we’ll do is like a Sunday before we shoot his scenes for the week. We’ll get in a room with him and the writers and pitch out alternate lines (alts) because he wants to keep it alive every take,” Russo explained.

When it came time for the scene to be shot, Downey Jr.’s assistant gave him a pre-approved variation of the original line through an earpiece. 

“So then he’ll do a take scripted and then his assistant will feed him the alts, he’ll do the scene again with the alts, his assistant will feed him the next round of alts, we’ll the scene again with another round of alts.”

Downey Jr. has gotten to know his character very well over the years and when it came time for Iron Man’s final scene when he died, the actor knew “instinctively” what had to happen to his character and helped shape the scene audiences saw in Avengers: Endgame

Russo then explained why Downey Jr.’s process helped him as a director, because it gave him options.

“And what’s great is that after four takes, we can look at everything he’s done and we can pick and choose and rebuild it, and then he’ll do it one more time with everything that seemed to work the best,” Russo said. 

As the saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Downey Jr.’s process honed over years of experience led to a performance in Avengers: Endgame worthy of an award, as far as the directors are concerned.

Watch Downey Jr., Johansson, Evans, and the rest of the cast in Avengers: Endgame, now available on DVD and Blu-ray as well as digital download and see the end result of their acting processes.