Robert Downey, Jr. Taught His ‘Dolittle’ Costar Martial Arts On the Set
The Marvel movies showed how great Robert Downey, Jr. can be with a younger generation through Tony Stark’s mentorship of Peter Parker (Tom Holland). Dolittle gives him another young actor to mentor in Harry Collett. Collett plays Tommy Stubbins, who joins the doctor and his animal friends to find a cure to save the Queen (Jessie Buckley).
Dolittle will be available to watch on VOD Tuesday, March 24 and on DVD, Blu-ray and 4K UHD April 7. Showbiz Cheat Sheet got an early copy of the Blu-ray and watched the behind the scenes bonus features, where Collett revealed Downey taught him a thing or two off screen too.
Robert Downey, Jr. practices Muay Thai and Wing Chun
As early as 2003, Downey was practicing the Thai martial art Muay Thai. At the press junket for Gothika, Downey spoke about practicing Muay Thai on a wooden dummy.
In 2011, Downey started training in Wing Chun with Eric Oram. He told Oprah Winfrey that it helped him recover from addiction. “[Wing Chun] gives you a sense of comfort and self-defense,” Downey told Winfrey. It improves your focus. It makes you feel you’re a part of something you respect.”
Robert Downey, Jr. became the master on the ‘Dolittle’ set
It’s no accident that Downey became a mentor to Collett. That was his plan all along.
“I took the opportunity to impart a lesson or two on the young master,” Downey said.
On the set, he encouraged Collett to practice until he got things right.
“There’s nothing you can get better at until you’ve done it more often,” Downey said to Collett. “It’s just like surfing, which I know nothing about.”
Collett revealed that Downey also imparted his martial arts training on the young actor.
“Throughout the shoot, Robert teaches me martial arts which I really, really enjoy,” Collett said. “Touch wood it dosn’t happen, but if it ever happened in the real world, it could be really useful.”
There’s plenty of footage of Downey showing Collett punches and footwork.
“He’s getting quick now,” Downey said. “He’s gonna break my nose before we’re done. You see the improvement already? No hesitation.”
Not all the lessons were productive
Downey used the down time between takes to teach Collett, but not every lesson was productive. You don’t make a movie with Downey without a little bit of goofing off too. Collett learned that Downey became impatient waiting for a take and would often say things like, “Talent’s ready,” “Roll sound” or ‘Let’s shoot this turkey.”
Sometimes he even joked at Collett’s expense. The behind the scenes crew caught Downey saying, “I totally forgot about my costar.”
Downey also joked with Collett about stepping in front of his close up.
“I give you food, I give you macaroons and then you block the lens?” Downey joked.
Seriously though, Downey sung Collett’s prasies.
“I remember seeing a screen test and went, ‘Oh my God, I wonder if that’s what Tom Cruise was like when he was 11,’” Downey said. “My mentorship program to the next generation of actors continues.”