Robert Downey Jr.: “It’s Good to Be King”

By on Saturday, 6th August 2011

“Iron Man 2″ blasts into theaters across the country Friday.



It already earned $100 million in its international debut last weekend, with Robert Downey Jr. returning in the starring role as the comic book hero.


“Early Show” co-anchor Julie Chen sat down with Downey recently to learn more about his personal journey and how he deals with fame.



Photos: Robert Downey Jr.



Chen says things couldn’t be going better for Downey.


“He brings a swagger and confidence to his portrayal of super-rich playboy Tony Stark, and his alter ego, Iron Man,” she said. “The success of the first film may have permanently changed his public persona.”



And now, with “Iron Man 2,” he continues his remarkable comeback.



What’s it like to wake up knowing you’re going to play Tony Stark at work?


Downey said, “Well, I would say, ‘Yeah, it’s good to be the king. And also, ‘Heavy is the head that wears the crown.’ Because, we were expanding the scope of the story we were telling. And I felt personally, personally responsible for kind of delivering on that promise.”



When “Iron Man” first lifted off in 2008, it made a whopping $585 million worldwide.



That success launched Downey into the rarified air of Hollywood “A”-listers.


A sequel was inevitable.


Downey said in the new movie, the plot returns to the “heart of the matter” with Stark. Downey said, “He has a very fragile existence.”



Stark is bent on self-destruction in “Iron Man 2.” He spends much of his time drowning his troubles in alcohol and feeding his inflated ego.


At one point in the movie, Stark reads a report about himself, saying, “Mr. Stark displays textbook narcissism. Agreed.”



The parallels to Downey’s own struggles with addiction are unavoidable.



From 1996 to 2001, the star was in and out of rehab and spent nearly a year in prison. No movie studio would hire the talented but tortured actor.


“I think life is really messy and really kind of ironic,” Downey said of that period. “And some of it’s just– silly beyond karma. So, I don’t really understand much about it. But, I certainly don’t take it all that seriously.”



He battled back and now, at 45, the two-time Oscar nominee is one of the most bankable stars in the business.


His other blockbuster franchise, “Sherlock Holmes,” earned over $500 million worldwide. The sequel shoots later this year.



What’s the secret to his sobriety?



Chen said Downey attributes his comeback to his wife of five years, Susan Downey, who serves as executive producer of “Iron Man 2.”



And what is it about Susan that’s made Downey a star again?



He explained, “I think it’s just that we’re really well-matched. And she’s, she actually has more of a secret identity than most superheroes in that she’s very kind of stoic and business-like on the outside. And yet, I get to see a side of her that is really reserved for our private times. And we’re just super close.”



He added the best piece of advice she’s ever given him is to “Shut up.”



Downey said he’s learned some good therapeutic tools that he and his wife use.



He told Chen a good one is for when you’re driving someplace that takes more than 10 or 15 minutes.


He said, “We have a thing where either one of us can say to the other one, ‘Go.’ And that means you’re supposed to start just venting and saying whatever comes up. Try not to crosstalk too much because if my vent is all about her character defects, then she’s going to spend her vent defending herself. But rather, if we just talk about ourselves in a general way or saying that we understand each other’s point of view, even if we don’t entirely, it’s very helpful.”


On “The Early Show,” Chen said he was given permission from the director to take home one of his character’s cool helmets.



However, Downey said his home is under his wife’s jurisdiction, so she’ll decide where it will be displayed.


But is this the end of the “Iron Man” franchise?



Downey told Chen he would definitely suit-up for “Iron Man 3,” but he’s got several films in development, including the “Sherlock Holmes” sequel he’s doing in London.



He also told Chen he’ll soon be starting to shoot “Gravity,” a 3-D movie that takes place on a remote space station. He also has a comedy called “Due Date” coming out later this year. In it, he plays an expectant father racing to make it home for the birth of his baby.


Chen said, “His career is in certainly in high-gear!”

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