Robert Downey Jr. on Acting: It Can ‘Keep You Young Forever, or It Can Make You Old Before Your Time’

Today, Robert Downey Jr. is best known for portraying Iron Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The actor and the character have grown intimately fused in fans’ minds, for Downey played Stark for over a decade and is largely responsible for kickstarting the landscape’s vast expansion

Robert Downey Jr. 'Captain America: Civil war'
Robert Downey Jr. ‘Captain America: Civil War’ | Ian Gavan / Staff

Before the MCU came knocking, Downey played Charlie Chaplin in Chaplin, starred in the HBO series Ally McBeal, appeared opposite Mark Ruffalo in Zodiac, and more. In other words, Downey has been in front of the camera for quite some time — and he’s learned a lot about showbiz (and how it can impact a performer) over the years. 

Robert Downey Jr. talks about acting — ‘the most wildly overpaid position’ 

During a sit-down with Interview Magazine, Downey discussed his career and the tendency that many young actors have to consider branching out into “directing,” as well as other sectors of the biz. He shared: 

“What’s so funny is you look at all us young guys and we’re already thinking, Well, I’m going to branch out into directing, and it’s going to be this and that. Well, we’re still kids. In a way we’re locked in now, you know what I mean? It’s as if you sign a pact with the Devil. [takes on a demonic voice] “You have a big house and a black German car. Keep making movies forever.”

Robert Downey Jr. | Interview Magazine

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Downey explained that “acting is the most wildly overpaid position imaginable,” and, once you’re locked in, you have to remain desirable to keep the lifestyle alive. He went on to share more about its impact on one’s life.

Dropping out of the biz seems like a terrible idea to Downey 

Downey noted that the business can keep you young or age you rapidly, and it all depends on how you view the circumstance. He shared:

“Everything that I’ve worked so hard for is there. Acting is the most wildly overpaid position imaginable. ‘How much did you make for eight weeks sitting in your trailer?’ ‘More than the President.’ It’s really silly. I want to give myself the freedom not to have to be projecting my whole life ahead. But right now the idea of dropping out of the business for five years seems like a gloomy jail sentence. It’s a business that can keep you young forever, or it can make you old before your time, and it all has to do with your perspective, what your beliefs are and how strong you can stay throughout it all…”

Robert Downey Jr. | Interview Magazine

Resilience is key. Determination matters. And, if your passion keeps you going, the world of acting can keep you youthful for years to come.