Robert Downey Jr. on Iron Man 2: This Time, It’s “Personal”

In Iron Man 2Robert Downey Jr. is back as the enigmatic Tony Stark, who splits his time between between being a hyper-active inventor and a bad-ass superhero. In the first installment of the Iron Man franchise, Stark/Iron Man escaped the clutches of evil, and wins over the American public after saving the world. Now, as he returns for the sequel, Stark has some demons to deal with, not to mention many more stunts for a middle-aged guy who’s having some health issues.

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“Physically, I feel like Don [Cheadle] and Scarlett [Johansson] and Mickey [Rourke] actually had a heavier load this time,” Downey Jr. told RadarOnline at a recent press event.

“He made them do [all his stunts] in CGI,” Gwyneth Paltrow joked. “Like, ‘F–k it! CGI!’” Paltrow is also back for Iron Man 2, reprising her role as Stark’s trusty assistant, Pepper Potts.

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Still, while Tony Stark isn’t doing as much baddie-fighting in the new film as in the previous one, he does have a big internal battle to contend with, from dealing with his past to trying to tell Pepper his true feelings. “For me, the mental and emotional aspects and development of Tony were a lot more — it’s strange to say personal,” Downey Jr. told Radar.

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“[They weren’t] necessarily relating to my life, so to speak, but just the mythology of saying you’re something and being that thing are entirely different,” he said. “Also this whole idea of [Tony’s father] Howard Stark and the legacy and the shadow of that legacy [is something] that we’re always talking about, [me and] Mickey [Rourke, who plays Ivan Vanko/Whiplash], of being two sides of the same coin, one who was able to escape that captivity, and one who saw his father die in the ruins of improper recognition, and having to reckon with that.

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“So really, all of the characters [are] bringing me back to an extended family I’ve always had, and Mickey as Ivan, is telling me that all is not well, and people have vendettas for reasons that I might not understand, but I need to understand,” Downey Jr. continued. “And Rhodey is there saying, ‘Hey, you’ve always had me on your wing, so why won’t you let me really help you.’”

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As Tony/Iron Man wades through his personal baggage, Pepper’s left to run her boss’s company and temper the PR fallout from Tony’s increasingly wild antics. “Pepper tries to hold it all together, she tries not to be reactive, she tries to steer [Tony] in the right direction,” Paltrow said. “She’s really the great woman behind the man.”

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Just as Paltrow was commenting on her character, a gigantic Iron Man poster fell off its hangers behind the actress. Downey Jr. leapt to try to pick it up, but instead wrapped himself with it while laughter erupted from the assembled press.

“Without Pepper, this is what you get!,” Paltrow said. “Male bulls–t, bumbling around, can’t even hang a poster!”