Robert Downey Jr. on the Type of Person He ‘Can’t Understand’

Though Robert Downey Jr. recently bid farewell to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU)sacrificing himself for humankind — he will always be remembered as an egotist… reformed. 

Stark was the landscape’s self-serving billionaire turned altruistic savior. Robert Downey Jr. and Iron Man grew intimately connected over the last decade. RDJ seemed to seamlessly tap into the character’s quick-wit and quick-talking style, as he often boasts those characteristics in other films (see Sherlock Holmes). And, though Robert Downey Jr. found a connection to Stark — a way to understand the character — he can’t understand all types of people. 

Robert Downey Jr. MCU
Robert Downey Jr. attends the ‘The First Avenger: Civil War’ Berlin Premiere | Matthias Nareyek/Getty Images

During an interview with The New York Times, back when Downey was new to Tony Stark, he sat down to talk about his career and his life leading up to his Marvel casting. The MCU was not the major filmic franchise it is today, and RDJ’s career was reascending.

Downey was once again climbing the Hollywood ladder to reclaim some of the top-dog status he sacrificed following problems with drugs and alcohol, as well as stints in prison; it all left him a bit less desirable in studio executives’ eyes. RDJ explained that, though living through a whirlwind past of chaotic decisions, he struggles to relate to such a mindset. 

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Robert Downey Jr. on seeing someone who is “throwing their life away”

Robert Downey Jr. explained that, when he sees individuals struggling to take control of their life, throwing away their opportunities, he can’t relate. He stated:

If I see somebody who is throwing their life away with both hands and is raging around and destroying their family, I can’t understand that person,” he said. “I’m not in that sphere of activity anymore, and I don’t understand it any more than I understood 10 or 20 years ago that somehow everything was going to turn out O.K. from this lousy, exotic and dark triple chapter of my life. I swear to God I don’t even really understand that planet anymore.

The New York Times

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Robert Downey Jr. went through a rough patch in life — throughout the 1980s and some of the 1990s — yet he has emerged stronger than ever. He has emerged with direction, focus, and a sense of responsibility. Though he endured a “lousy, exotic, and dark triple chapter,” he doesn’t understand “that planet anymore.” 

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Downey cannot see how he, or other people in that place, can assume an it-will-all-work-out mindset when every action taken works to prove otherwise. Yet, RDJs’ past does not define him, as he has since gone on to become of the most successful actors in all of Hollywood.

Downey recently appeared in Dolittle, and he is set to play scam doctor John Brinkley in an upcoming biopic, as well as Sherlock Homles in the third installment across from Jude Law. However, if Jon Favreau didn’t take a chance on him way back when…would he be where he is today? Without Iron Man, who would RDJ be to fans? Luckily, we will never have to know.