Two weeks ago, I attended the worldwide press conference for Iron Man 2 in Los Angeles. In attendance on the panel were the following: Mavel producer Kevin Feige, Don Cheadle, Gwyneth Paltrow, Robert Downey Jr, Scarlett Johansson, Jon Favreau, Mickey Rourke, and screenwriter Justin Theroux.
I usually don’t post video or footage from these type of events, but Robert Downey Jr was on his game and had some great quips. Unfortunately Paramount decided to cut out the funniest moment of the event: a part at the very end where the Iron Man 2 banner behind them fell down, and Downey decided to try to hold it up behind Scarlett Johansson as she answered the last question. After the jump you can watch the video or read the transcript.
IRON MAN 2 WORLDWIDE PRESS CONFERENCE
April 23, 2010
Press Member: For Robert and for Jon, I wanted to ask what pressure you might have felt or did not feel doing a sequel to the first film which was such a blockbuster and knowing that the fans were just waiting with bated breath. Did you feel pressure?
Robert Downey, Jr.: Do you mean like feel like it’s past tense? I didn’t sleep last night. I didn’t sleep last night. Jon?
Jon Favreau: I’ve never done a sequel before. Um, unless you count me being an under five on ‘Batman Forever’ as a sequel. For me there wasn’t the same pressures that you’re used to feeling. Especially coming up with smaller movies where…
Robert Downey, Jr.: Pipe it up Jon. Come on.
Jon Favreau: You’re throwing a party and you don’t know if people are going to show up. Here we knew people were going to show up and we just wanted to make sure everyone had a good time and it was just going to be as fun or more fun than the last party. So, different kind of pressure.
Press Member: Jon and Kevin can you talk about the timeline for IRON MAN 2 and how it fits in with ‘Thor,’ ‘Captain America,’ and ‘The Avengers?’
Kevin Feige: It takes place before but if you pay attention at the end of the film you’ll see a little clue that tells you it’s happening before ‘The Incredible Hulk.’
Jon Favreau: The whole idea of an Easter egg is that you don’t talk about it.
Kevin Feige: Yeah, or Tweet about it.
Press Member: My question is for Mr. Favreau: There was a snippet in the trailer where Pepper Potts was in the plane with Tony, was that meant to be a part of the Stark expo scene where he’s flying down from the plane?
Jon Favreau: Yes. That was, we had different versions of things that we tried, that was something that was a great image and we love and a scene that is going to be in the DVD. But we had two different versions of it and because of the pacing and the way that we reveal Tony Stark, it felt really good to flow into the drop down and reveal him for the first time on stage. For those of you who haven’t seen the movie this doesn’t make any sense, but often times in the editing room we figure out what combinations of scenes…
Robert Downey, Jr.: Gwyneth is just finding out that scene was cut Jon. You might be a little more sensitive.
Press Member: I’d like to ask Gwyneth and Scarlett, the Tony character is a little surprised that you guys can work together quite well later in the movie. And I was wondering who you think could better work together to save the world, two women like Pepper and Natalie, or two buds like Rhodey and Tony?
Gywneth Paltrow: Well if Scarlett and I were doing it, the body count would be different, less bloody.
Scarlett Johansson: And more organized.
Gywneth Paltrow: Yes.
Scarlett Johansson: We’d just stack them. I don’t know, I that we, with the brains and the muscle and the beauty and the blond, I feel like we maybe have a greater chance, but you guys can fight for yourselves.
Gywneth Paltrow: We’re unstoppable.
Scarlett Johansson: We are, it’s true. Unstoppable, you know. I don’t know, I feel like if I could wield the guns and the karate chop movements and you can like…
Gywneth Paltrow: Out think people?
Scarlett Johansson: You could be the brains behind the operation. That could be your super power.
Gywneth Paltrow: I will out think you.
Press Member: This is a little off topic, but for you Robert, are you going to be the vampire Lestat? Is there truth to that rumor? The vampire Lestat?
Robert Downey, Jr.: Yeah, I mean anything that’s going on just imagine that it’s been offered to me.
Don Cheadle: ‘Precious’ too.
Robert Downey, Jr.: I like that your imagining that we’ve been on topic so far.
Press Member: my question is for Mickey Rourke: That was an electrifying performance. Can you talk about what it was like to play that character and how much fun you had?
Mickey Rourke: I had a lot of fun. It was great cause I worked with some great people and it was real easy, this one here is real easy to work with, makes it fun, and ah it was nice cause I just came off working on a film that there was no budget and I didn’t even have a chair to sit in. I remember the first day I asked for a cappuccino and they asked me what kind I would like. So…
Press Member: For Justin and for Jon, on the first IRON MAN it was sort of famous that you discovered a lot on set, with the first IRON MAN. How much did you discover this time? Justin, how much of your are we seeing on screen and how much is sort of the entire group coming together and working with it and changing things?
Justin Theroux: It’s a heavily improvisational set, you know, and everyone sort of gets to chime in, so my job as the writer, I think was really just to stay on the dance shoes of Robert and Jon and Gwyneth and everybody and just sort of rewrite things on the fly. So we have like an extensive development process obviously. Sort of where we had a script and that ball just keeps rolling into production and then once we’re on set it gets very frenetic and very fast.
Jon Favreau: The story’s very well flushed out. The story, what has to happen in each scene, we understand. We leave a lot of room within those scenes and try to do multiple cameras some times and stay up and rewrite, and Justin you know he was doing multiple passes, sometimes double digit passes on scenes because we learn things on each scene that we shoot, we try to shoot pretty much in order. And what’s nice about having the actors you see up here is their all very good stewards of their characters emotionally and they’re used to being in films where you don’t have the safety net of the high technology and the explosions. And so if they have an issue with something we’re asking the character to do for the story, we discuss it and we figure out a way it can work for them as a performer and also for the movie.
Press Member: This question is for Don Cheadle: Your character Rhodey was played by Terrence Howard in the first one, how did you feel when the opportunity arose for you to play this role in this movie, and how cool was it for you to put on the IRON MAN suit? I mean War Machine suit?
Don Cheadle: Well I don’t know why the War Machine suit was actually made of metal and his was made of light fiber glass material, but maybe it was just an initiation, but I felt very fortunate to get the opportunity to work in a film like this. You know Terrence is a friend and I’ve known him for a long time and I was one of the producers on ‘Crash,’ I put him in that, so it was good to also kind of see him and put anything to bed that people thought was a problem; it wasn’t. We’re cool. And it was, look, it’s a lot of fun. We get to play with the best toys and the best technology so it was just kind of doing what you liked to do as a kid, but all flushed out.
Robert Downey, Jr.: The reason Don’s suit was heavier is that it’s almost impossible to get that mirror like look of a polished metal with CGI. Umm, I would not wish it on an enemy.
Don Cheadle: We’re going to have to come up with a different substance for the next one.
Robert Downey, Jr.: It was horrific.
Don Cheadle: A different material.
Press Member: My question is for the three gentlemen on the end here: you’ve got a rogue’s gallery with IRON MAN, but it’s not as well known as something like ‘Batman’ or ‘Spiderman,’ were there other villains considered? Talk about the decision to go with Whiplash. Was Mickey’s casting part of that?
Kevin Feige: Well I met with Mickey at this hotel, remember? And I brought him some artwork, and we thought Whiplash in the comic book is a guy that’s wearing tights with a big plume, a big purple feather coming out of the top of his head, and that wasn’t what we wanted, but what’s the tech version of that? We were thinking of, we were concocting a version of a Russian, you know thinking of Viggo in ‘Eastern Promises’ and tattoos and that could be a cool in. And so it was going to be a Russian and then we’re like ‘Marv’ and ‘The Wrestler,’ between those two, the fan boys and the independent film community, he was back with a vengeance. And it was like ‘My God, he could really, you know.’ There is a lot of people, we’re not going to have a tremendous amount of screen time, who’s going to be able to be there and make an impression where you feel like this guys in trouble? And so Mickey brought a lot of intensity in both those roles. We did some artwork and I met with him and sat down with him and we talked about everything and it was before the whole awards thing started to happen. We had a nice little connection. And I talked to people who worked with him and they said great things about him. His talent is undeniable. And so that started, that conversation ended, and then Robert was on the road with him, doing the tour because he was on the ‘Tropic Thunder’ awards tour, and he, I think, was lobbying every time they sat together to try and get him to join the movie.
Robert Downey, Jr.: I really worked you like a rib, didn’t I? It was embarrassing. I was literally begging you in public.
Press Member: We’re from Korea, and I just wanted to ask Robert from the first movie to the second movie you’re working with a lot more different characters and more actors and I was wondering, how is that working with some many different new actors in the second movie? What was the dynamic like? What was it like from the first and how is it different?
Robert Downey, Jr.: It was great. I mean, cause these are all folks that I would be happy to work with in any circumstance and in any medium, so it was just swell. As for the management of it, cause I am a little, I don’t want to say neurotic, but a little bit like a co-manager of a baseball team that just got an even better line-up in the spring, so I felt a little beholden to be partially responsible for their experience. But really a lot of that fell on Justin, which is why, I don’t know why we haven’t talked about it, had a horrible neck problem during the whole shoot, didn’t you? I mean at one point I thought he was going to have his head removed.
Jon Favreau: This poor guy, he would show up, and there would be this poor guy who would wheel him in, and he would just sigh up and hand in his pages and I’ve never met anyone with a better work ethic, or somebody who could bring inspiration to each scene that he would do. Because we talk a lot about how we bounce stuff around, and the fact that these guys had a really good rapport from ‘Tropic Thunder,’ and he understood his voice and how to weave in and out of Robert’s creative process very effectively. To jump on board a franchise, I think he had, probably the sharpest learning curve for Justin than for all of us. He really did a fantastic job.
Press Member: How hard is it to balance the, keep it natural, the Tony Stark story, while trying to feed in stuff that builds towards the ‘Avengers’ franchise thing? Is it hard to sort of shoe horn Nick Fury in there? Does it work for you? And the other thing is, can you talk a little bit about Sam Rockwell’s performance in here? He made an incredible Justin Hammer, and why didn’t he make the big poster?
Jon Favreau: Ah well let’s see, the characters trick is to make them, to feather them in, so they don’t overwhelm the story and you know suffer from villainitis. And so by having Justin Hammer and Mickey Rourke’s character come together fairly early, you really have two story lines that are weaving, you don’t have five separate story lines. The same thing with Scarlett as Black Widow working her way into Gwyneth and Robert’s story. So we really try to keep flows, of narrative flows going that don’t get too convoluted. Cause I would lose track of that stuff. I get, especially in sequels, as the franchise is getting more complex, I don’t always remember what happened in the last movie. Not for nothing, I like to watch the stuff blow up, but I’m not going to go do homework before I go see a sequel, to be up on everything. And so we tried to keep that simple. And Justin Hammer, I mean Sam Rockwell was somebody that I known and thought would work really well with Mickey, he doesn’t get intimidated by talented performers and movie stars. He’s done a great job with a lot of people.
Mickey Rourke: We had a great time. We had a lot of fun.
Robert Downey, Jr.: Mickey, wait, I’m sorry, hold on. I think we waited long enough. Can we please talk about the parrot already? I don’t know why the parrot is not on the poster, personally.
Mickey Rourke: He’s home.
Jon Favreau: Yeah, you bought one after…
Mickey Rourke: Yeah.
Jon Favreau: Yeah.
Press Member: My question is for Robert and for Gwyneth: first question is you have played heroes lately, so what do you think the definition of hero is? And Gwyneth, you have given us some lifestyle advice lately through your website, would you like to give us some advice? Because I am having a hard time losing weight.
Robert Downey, Jr.: I think a hero is someone who if they’re abroad or traveling, they go to the Goop website to find out what restaurants to go to, what clothing shops they might enjoy, what sites they should see. And they do that, not fearlessly, but they do that in spite of their fear.
Gwyneth Paltrow: Actually not this coming week, but next week, the Goop Newsletter will be about my IRON MAN training regiment and how I lost weight and got in shape to play this part, so you can check it out.
Press Member: Actually, this question is for the two of you as well. There’s a real moonlighting thing going on between the two of you in the movie. The banter between the two of you is great. But the kiss, of course, was very highly anticipated. How was it shooting that scene and finally getting that over with?
Robert Downey, Jr.: I couldn’t get her off of me. It was embarrassing.
Gwyneth Paltrow: It was great because both my husband and his wife were right there.
Robert Downey, Jr.: She said to me that I didn’t know what I was doing. Like it didn’t feel good. And I’m like, you know what? First of all, we’re all friends, so what would be creepy is if I was coming off all sexy to you while we’re, by the way, I’ve done that in movies and it creeps them out. So why am I going to creep you out? What am I, I felt like I was going to swallow this mike cover for a moment. Despite what she said on set, she still thinks about it.
Press Member: Question for Robert and question for Jon. Jon: I notice that your glorified extra role from the first movie definitely got much more flushed out. I was wondering why you decided to move in on the action yourself. And Robert, I notice that your wife’s name was in the credits as a producer and she was not last time and I was wondering what that was like for you.
Robert Downey, Jr.: Do you wanna swap questions?
Jon Favreau: Ah do you mind if we swap? We swap answers? Can he talk about Happy Hogan and I will talk about Susan Downey?
Press Member: By all means.
Jon Favreau: That’d be great. We just get asked these questions a lot. Susan, ah, Susan is a great producer, who has, it’s not like she came on board and became a producer to, because, we’re making IRON MAN. Quite the contrary. We were funneling towards a start date and we had a lot of ideas spread out and we had bulletin boards and Justin was there and Robert was there and Kevin and myself and Jeremy Latcham, with index cards trying to figure out how to make the work flow through. And she has tremendous organization ability and she understands Robert’s creative process and she understands the first movie and lived through it with us. And so Susan, who has a very strong background in development and physical production, was able to come in and just help. It’s like one of those shows where they just organize all of your closets for you and make you throw out all of the clothes that you don’t need anymore. But is takes somebody who says, you’re never going to wear that again. They’re never going to fit in that. And they throw it away. Or give it away, or figure our where…
Robert Downey, Jr.: On a certain level, they might have thought that she was going to come in and tame me or put me in check or whatever, but I was completely out of my mind. Let’s talk about Happy Hogan. There’s three Happy Hogan’s in the movie. The Jon Favreau that was in excellent shape, he was boxing every day pre-production and made it into the ring for the scene where he gets his ass handed to him by Scarlett. It was originally a longer scene and maybe he was just too emasculated to let it be in the movie, but I think you laid the boots to him quite severely.
Gwyneth Paltrow: Is that not in the movie?
Jon Favreau: No that’s in there.
Gwyneth Paltrow: Oh.
Jon Favreau: He’s on a run, let him…it’s in the movie.
Robert Downey, Jr.: And then about midway, he’s struggling with a mega fast, occasionally bingeing with pizza, but I gotta get back in…
Jon Favreau: Can I have my question back?
Robert Downey, Jr.: By the time we were doing reshoots, they were framing him out of shots. Umm here’s the thing though. He’s, this is one of the things that I love about you.
Jon Favreau: Here we go. Now kiss me on my cheek and after you’re done with me.
Robert Downey, Jr.: Yeah, and so, that’s how we do it.
Jon Favreau: Give me a dollar and a towel. And cab fare and walk me to the lobby.
Robert Downey, Jr.: You know I don’t have the upbeat part. I forgot it. Pressing on…
Press Member: I saw the move last night. Everybody was fantastic, great performances. Really impressive. Loved it. Umm, you kind of side-stepped the Sam Rockwell question. And in the lead up to the movie, there’s been hundreds of stills, posters, Sam’s in none of it, and he’s noticeably absent today, is there a falling out? Was he…
Jon Favreau: Yes…
Press Member: Were you guys not happy with him?
Jon Favreau: You hit the mother load. No I love Sam. Sam’s doing a play. Umm, I hope to be working with him again.
Robert Downey, Jr.: I had that same question though. I was wondering. He must be doing a play or something.
Jon Favreau: Yeah, he’s on Broadway doing a play right now. He’s awesome. He’s going to be at the premiere. You can ask him your self then, he uh, ever since our first collaboration, when he was the gender unspecific concierge in ‘Made,’ I knew that he was an inspiring, inspired dude. I wish that he could be here selfishly, because he is a fun, funny guy and he was really always a fountain head of ideas and stuff and I wish he could have been here but he can’t. There’s no, unfortunately, there’s no fire where that smoke is.
Press Member: And you considered him for Tony Stark as well you said?
Jon Favreau: Well there was, we were putting lists together, long before Robert, I even met with Robert, and it was talked about.
Robert Downey, Jr.: Enough. This is embarrassing. You’re embarrassing yourself. Shut up.
Press Member: I don’t mind being embarrassed.
Jon Favreau: I thought he could be an, a sort of, untraditional interesting other way to go as we were listing a lot of younger actors that didn’t have a lot of experience. That were a little more, traditionally, what you’d think for a super hero role. Then when I met Robert, we pretty much clicked, and I knew that that was, that was the guy. But, as Justin Hammer, I think you see like a cool goofy image of what he…Justin Hammer wishes he was Tony Stark and he really embraced that aspect of the character. And I think it’s really fun, in a really fun way.
Press Member: Thank you, and finally Scarlett was fantastic as Black Widow. There was talk at one point of a spin-off movie for her. I think that anyone who sees the movie would love to see that. Is that still a possibility?
Kevin Feige: Hell yes.
Scarlett Johansson: Kevin?
Kevin Feige: Absolutely.
Press Member: My question is for Jon. We heard about a few of the scenes that might end up on the DVD. What other cool extras do you have planned for the DVD and Blue Ray release?
Jon Favreau: Well we have, there are a lot of featurettes. We were running cameras behind the scenes all the time. We don’t like to really like to show too much of it before the movie comes out to keep some surprises, but everything was very well documented. And as you can see, we have a very interesting group of people. And so, between the interviews, you get s really good sense, we’re fans of these movies. Kevin and I are always swapping back and forth books and things about the movies that we grew up loving. And so we documented very well so there is going to be pretty extensive featurettes and then commentary this time around and also deleted scenes that we thought would be interesting for people to see. So it’s more a movie fan set of extras, people who really want to immerse themselves.
Press Member: This question is for Gwyneth and Scarlett. If you could just tell us a little more about your specific roles and how in this movie you are strong intelligent women, you are not in the movie just as a sex symbol per se. Could you tell us a little more about that?
Scarlett Johansson: Well you know, I don’t think I have never really seen a film of this genre, where the female characters were, that they’re kind of this, that they’re sex appeal was sort of came second. I mean of course they’re sexy characters and they’re, when you have a sexy secretary, or a girl you know swinging around by her ankles in a cat suit, you know that’s innately sexy, but the fact is that these characters are intelligent. They’re ambitious. They’re motivated and calculated to some degree, and so it leaves…I probably would have, to be just a pawn in a story of a whole bunch of men kind of fighting it out and rolling around and getting down and dirty, there you are to sort of be like the vision in the tight cat suit is sort of a boring thing to me. And I think that Jon really made that very clear in the beginning, that he felt that as far as Black Widow was concerned or that Natalie was concerned, was that she was mysterious and nuanced and something to kind of peel back the layers to. That there was something there. That he wanted to do that and you know I think that is why this film is much more dynamic for me as an audience member. I have never really been a fan of this genre really and I think because it is really one note and kind of explosive, I think because Gwyneth and I can sort of be the brains behind the operation in some aspect, there’s kind of a happy medium there. I think it adds to the charm and the charisma of the film and the finished product.
Gwyneth Paltrow: I agree with Scarlett. Umm I think that it’s a very smart decision actually to have women that are capable and intelligent because it appeals to women. You know so it’s not only a film for fifteen year old boys. It’s a film that can relate to a lot of people on a lot of levels. And you know a lot of my girlfriends like it because of the romance or like Scarlett is in the trailer and it is appealing. Ooh who is she and you know it doesn’t look like you know, it doesn’t look gratuitous, it looks like there are interesting women in the movie and you know certainly from the first one too my character is quick and she’s articulate and she’s you know, I think it makes it, it makes it so that you know that when you take your kid when you’re a mom it’s really fun to watch as well. So it’s nice to see women who are kind of inspirational and smart, sexy, all at the same time.
Don Cheadle: I think fifteen year old boys are going to like it too.
Scarlett Johansson: It’s awfully kind of old fashioned actually, in the best sense of the word. There’s sort of that, these characters are sort of like these fabulous femme fatales of the golden age of Hollywood that Betty Davis more than the Jane Mansfield, you know, which I think is so much more dynamic to watch.
Press Member: My questions are for Ms. Paltrow again and for Mr. Downey, Jr. For Ms. Paltrow, I am wondering, sort of ripping off of that last question, if you had some kind of interior monologue or ideas about Pepper kind of beyond what we get through dialogue and she is quite plaintive and supportive but that’s mostly from what we see. And for Mr. Downey, Jr. I am wondering about the physical challenges, and perhaps emotional and intellectual as well for this whole and what the boundaries of that were for you.
Robert Downey, Jr.: Yeah they probably want to hear me first. Physically, I feel like Don and Scarlett and Mickey, actually, had a heavier load this time as far as just…
Gwyneth Paltrow: He made them do it all in CGI. He’s like CGI. CGI it! I am walking off.
Don Cheadle: Draw me.
Robert Downey, Jr.: But again, I think we all just labored really hard to say like ok we’re audience members who made the first IRON MAN successful and we’re smart which is kind of why we were drawn to it so what do we expect? We kept putting ourselves in audience seats and to me the mental and emotional aspects and development of Tony, were to me, a lot more, it’s strange to say personal, cause it’s not necessarily relating to my life, so to speak, but just the mythology of saying your something and being that thing or something is entirely different. And also, this whole idea of Howard Stark and the legacy and the shadow of that legacy that we always were talking about, Mickey and I, about being kind of two sides of the same coin. One who was able to ah escape that captivity and one who saw his father die in the ruins of improper recognition and having to reckon with that. And so really all of the characters you know, I mean Black Widow, Natalie in certain places, bringing me back to an extended family that I’ve always had. And Mickey as Anton is telling me that all is not well and people have vendettas for reasons that I might not understand but that I need to understand. And Rhodey is there saying, “Hey you’ve always had me kind of on your wing so why won’t you really let me help you?” And obviously the Pepper thing.
Jon Favreau: Alright thank you every body.