The big story this week, coming on the heels of Avengers: Age of Ultron making nearly $100 million in its first day of release en route to a jaw-dropping opening weekend, was that of the biggest star of that film. Robert Downey Jr, in an interview with Entertainment Weekly Radio on Sirius XM, dropped a number of bombshells. The biggest one was on how now, at age 50 and one of the biggest draws in Hollywood, he has no desire to do an indie film anymore. His comments are telling.
“Because they’re exhausting and sometimes they suck and then you just go, ‘What was I thinking?’ But I’m interested in doing all different kinds of movies. Sometimes the little movies are the ones that wind up taking the most out of you because they’re like, ‘Hey, man, we’re just running a couple of days behind. Do you think you can stay through your birthday and then come back on the fourth of July. And, by the way, but, like, the crew—can you pay for the craft services? And, oh, by the way, man, when we go to Sundance, it’s like, can we just sit you in a chair and you can sell this for six days in a row so that we’ll make 180 bucks when it opens in one theater? God, this is so powerful what we’re doing. What do you think of the movie? You saw it last night?’”
“I thought it’s mediocre.”
“Yeah, isn’t it the greatest?! Man, everyone’s an artist here.”
“Actually, most of you are kind of inexperienced and lame.”
He gave a hard and unequivocal no to doing an indie film after Ultron as the headlines were fairly predictable. “Robert Downey Junior doesn’t want to do your stupid indie film” and the like populated the airwaves of the web. It’s a simple headline for his statement, which are a bit incendiary towards the indie film community in a lot of ways, but when you look at his history (and his current status) it makes significantly more sense that he’d want to just be a big time movie star and keep cashing those $20 million plus Marvel checks.
Downey was always poised to be the next great movie star for decades but his personal problems of addiction always held him back. He spent a significant portion of the early 2000s in the indie world, rebuilding his career after it seemed all but over after washing out of Ally McBeal with drug problems. Iron Man may have launched his career to where we had thought it was going to go oh so many years ago BUT his work from the end of McBeal to that film is indie films and the occasional supporting role in a studio film. Throw in that his father was a legend of the New York underground scene, one of the precursors to the modern indie scene, and this is an actor who knows better than most about what being on an indie film is all about.
Part of the reasoning behind why a lot of high level actors take the occasional film role in an indie film is that usually its for the artistic desires of said actor to be fulfilled. Many actors want to avoid feeling like a “sellout” because you finally hit those seven figure paydays. It’s like having a conversation with your 20 year old self as you hit 40. My 20 year old self would be yelling at me for never pursuing grad school and intellectual fulfillment. Current me would tell him that sometimes life doesn’t turn out like you think it will when you’re younger, especially after a year or two in the “real world” tell you just how profoundly wrong you were at age 20.
The other reason is what I call the Ryan Reynolds effect. There’s a reason why Reynolds does a ton of indie work when he’s not flailing about in big studio fare. He’s using them as reps in his acting fastball, to try and and get better but without the pressure. Think of it like a rehab start for a major league baseball player. You go down to the AA circuit to work on your swing, et al, without the pressure of being in the big leagues to work through these things. Reynolds has gotten significantly better as an actor over the years mainly because he’s been able to get in those reps without the $100 million budget dictating a certain level of performance.
Downey? He’s gotten all the quality reps he could use on the lower level. Downey never discusses the artistic urge because he gets to pick the roles he wants to satisfy that. So of course the indie scene wouldn’t appeal to him anymore. He doesn’t need it in the way other actors do.
If you want to pimp anything email it to me with a good reason why. It helps to bribe me with stuff, just saying ….
A Movie A Week – The Challenge
This week’s DVD – Sky High
I remember seeing the trailer for this film and thinking it would be fairly awful. It turned out to be one of my favorite films of the the past ten years. I reviewed it here, when it was in theatres almost ten years ago. How time flies and such.
Simple premise. Will Stronghold (Michael Angarano, discount Shia LaBeoug for a long time) is the son of the two greatest superheroes in the world (Kurt Russell, Kelly Preston). Unfortunately he doesn’t have any powers to speak of … and is about to go to finishing school for superheroes, the titular Sky High. From there he’ll have to find his way and come of age at a high school where everything is a riff on the superhero genre (and what it’d become).
This is a film that was about a decade too early as 2005 was just the beginning of the superhero craze. It’d fit in much better now, and probably find a much bigger audience, because it did what Hot Fuzz and I’m Gonna Git You Sucka both did: be a great genre spoof while also being a great genre piece.
What Looks Good This Weekend, and I Don’t Mean the $2 tall boys of Red Fox and community college co-eds with low standards at the Fox and Hound
The D-Train – Jack Black is trying to get people together for a high school reunion and tries to get his old actor friend, and high school chum, to show up. Shenanigans ensue.
Skip it – Jack Black is a comedy Houdini; as soon as he appears on screen comedy generally tends to disappear. Plus “The D-Train” sounds like something a curlbro would use to describe a woman’s interest in him. Seriously … “She wants to ride the D-train” followed by a railroad whistle sound for comic effect.
Hot Pursuit – The Spanish gal from Modern Family and Reese Witherspoon do their best Midnight Run impression.
See it – I’m curious what’ll happen when you put two really talented women in the Midnight Run kind of scenario.
Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings his trademarked irreverence and offensive hilarity to Twitter in 140 characters or less. Follow him @ScottSawitz .
Scott Sawitz is an Inside Pulse original. He's also been featured on The Ultimate Fighter.com, Fox Sports.com, Nerdcore Movement.com, CagePotato.com, Inside Fights.com and Film Arcade.net (among others). When Scott isn't writing about film he's making his own. Check out Drunk Justice Productions right here.