Robert Downey Jr. Reveals How Gwyneth Paltrow Impacted the Creation of Iron Man

Ever wonder how Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man came to be? Intimately connected to the “genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist” he embodied for over a decade, Robert Downey Jr. and Tony Stark will forever be one in Marvel enthusiasts’ eyes. The quick-tongued super – on a narrative journey from attention-seeking egotist to selfless hero – has finished his time with the Avengers

Now, Robert Downey Jr. can look back on his time spent playing Tony Stark and reflect. During an interview with The Off Camera Show, he revealed that his screen test tape did not exactly align with what Iron Man would become. 

Robert Downey Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow
Robert Downey Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow | Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Robert Downey Jr. explained to the interviewer that, for his screen test, “he was playing it a little more straight” and “there weren’t a bunch of funny lines,” before going onto explain that the Iron Man we know and love is a result of a meshing of the minds. So, whose minds were meshing?

Robert Downey Jr. noted that when work on the movie got underway, he, Jon Favreau, and Kevin Feige began discovering the Tony Stark that would hit the silver screen for the first time in 2008; Stark was a combination of all their “sensibilities,” as Downey noted. However, during the interview, he revealed that Gwyenth Paltrow also played a great role in shaping the character, and the various character dynamics witnessed throughout the Iron Man saga. 

Robert Downey Jr. explains how Gwyenth Paltrow altered the direction of Iron Man’s characterization

While discussing all the minds that went into the creation of Iron Man, Robert Downey Jr. revealed Gwyenth Paltrow’s pivotal role in obtaining a level of realism that may have been sacrificed had she not spoken up. Downey stated:

“Gwyneth Paltrow coming in and going ‘uhh, testosterone fest. Can we talk about what’s true north for, actually, what the reality of these relationships are?’ And Jon would be like, ‘That’s right. Everyone stop. Listen to her.’” 

The Off Camera Show

Downey goes on to explain that the creation of his character — and the interrelationships at play throughout the Iron Man movie — was, in large part, the result of teamwork – “passing the talking stick and deferring to each other like any good community.”

Robert Downey Jr. notes that the “amalgamation of all those little moments of thoughtfulness and open-mindedness are suddenly what this character is remembered for.” From Jon Favreau and Kevin Feige to RDJ himself and Gwyneth Paltrow, the creation of Iron Man was a team effort. 

As for Paltrow, she brought some needed doses of realism concerning Stark’s personal relationships. And, given Stark’s connection to Potts and Parker, it’s likely that her words have carried over in the minds of those behind the character for the last decade or so.

Everyone always says, “Robert Downey Jr. is Iron Man;” however, truth be told, Favreau, Feige, Paltrow, and Downey are all Iron Man. A piece of each of them — none less vital than the next  — has found a way into the Iron Man you have come to love.