Avengers: Age of Ultron Robert Downey Jr Avengers 2 set interview

On June 12th 2014, I visited the London set of The Avengers: Age of Ultron. Today we’ll be posting a couple of the interviews we conducted while on set. The first is with Robert Downey Jr, who is reprising his role as Tony Stark, aka Iron Man. You can listen to or read the whole interview after the jump, but I wanted to lead off with Downey Jr’s explanation of why Avengers 2 won’t fall into the superhero/blockbuster formula of an action-heavy not-so-interesting third act:

There was a Rubik’s Cube to how to make these things have an Act Three — that you’re just going I really hope you like Acts One and Two because now we’ve just gotta do all this stuff. To me, and I think it was the same thing in Iron Man 3, Act Three was the strongest act. I think that this is really gunning for that sort of thing. Because I love movies. I love these kinds of movies. I feel like I’m just a very tolerant kind of consumer with these things, but I also feel like the half-life of — if you noticed just how flooded the market is becoming and likely to become potentially even more so. I think that there has to be a bit of a transcendence of formula. And so without giving too much away, and why I generally just stamped it when the first draft came in ‘cause I thought, “Oh wow, it didn’t fall into that trap.” And I read the last page and I got chills, for a reason I definitely can’t explain. [LAUGHTER] … This is gonna be very cool.

Read or listen to our whole Robert Downey Jr Avengers 2 set interview after the jump.

Avengers: Age of Ultron: Iron Man in the mountains

The following interview with Robert Downey Jr. was conducted on the London set of Avengers: Age of Ultron on June 12th 2014. There, I participated in with in a roundtable with a group of movie blog colleagues.

Click here to listen to the full interview!

Question: Talk a little bit about your reaction when you first got the script from Joss and how it’s changed since you first got it?

Robert Downey Jr: Sure. First of all, he’s a good writer. So I always tend to think, generally speaking, is this a movie I wanna see ‘cause, all the fine points are gonna get worked out. And there’s a lot of, you know, at this point — as the Mayor of Marvel, [LAUGHTER] — um, I don’t know. There’s gonna be so many squeaky wheels along the way. Many of them practical and others just creative departures or differences or whatever. And to me this kinda started with the third Iron Man which is like alright, I’m gonna read the script. Who wrote it? Shane Black. I like it. [LAUGHTER] And this time I think that from the jump I thought wow, this is really what Avengers: Age of Ultron should be. But I was done with the first draft and I said, “Cool. I like it.” Kevin [Feige] was like “wait, what did you just say?” [LAUGHS] I’m sure there was a bunch of iterations and things that changed over time. But then I read the second and then the third draft. And he’s continuing to write even as we’re setting up shots he’s going, “oh, I wanna — I want it to be or bringing back in a line that was in the first draft” or whatever. But I always love —  you’d think this was the ingredients to that salad dressing that makes girls go into labor. [LAUGHTER] I’m guessing it is. [LAUGHTER]

Question: Joss mentioned he had a lot of ideas for the second Avengers movie even before he took on the first Avengers movie. Were you kinda privy to that at all about where he wanted to go with Tony, with vision and Ultron and everyone?

Robert Downey Jr: Not really. Honestly I didn’t really even get to know Joss until we started this movie. Because, you know, Avengers was so I — I don’t wanna say disorienting, but it was a very kind of well-managed compartmentalized attempt to do something unprecedented. And I didn’t feel necessarily the stress of it. But I could tell that it was a little bit of a different approach to the process. And I remember the first time saying too like, “Look, scene one should be Tony.” And he was like, “Alright, scene one isn’t Tony.” I was like, “But it should be.” [LAUGHTER] And as it turned out it was really smart the way it all worked out for everyone.

Avengers: Age of Ultron: Tony Stark with an Ultron prototype in his lab

Question: Where’s Tony now at this point because by the end of Iron Man 3 there’s a real sense that he doesn’t wanna wear the suit and he doesn’t wanna be the physical guy doing it.

Robert Downey Jr: Right.

Question: So how are you now playing this role as this progresses?

Robert Downey Jr: Yes. Well I would counterpoint that by saying that I thought that the third Iron Man was about transcending his dependence on the merits of continuing to wear your wound. And I thought that that was kind of what Shane [Black] and I thought was the real win. Was that he throws that thing that had become a dependency away because that was the question I was always asking: why doesn’t he get those shards out? It’s dangerous. So it kinda reminds me of all that stuff particularly as you get a little older or if you have any existential queries whatsoever. It’s like why aren’t I dealing with that which is going to destroy me any second anyway? And then the armor was kind of an extension of that. And also there was just so many suits. But I think he realizes that tweaking and making all the suits in the world still didn’t work for that thing of his, kinda his tour of duty that left him a little PTSD. So his focus is more on how can we make it so that there’s no problem to begin with. That there’s a bouncer at our planets rope. That’s the big idea.

Avengers: Age of Ultron: Thor goes after Tony Stark

Question: Joss was telling us yesterday that one of the big themes of the entire film is being destroyed by power. And I’m curious how you think that applies to Tony and his story.

Robert Downey Jr.: How does it apply to Tony? Oh.

Question: Do you have a witty remark otherwise? [LAUGHS]

Robert Downey Jr: Well I mean honestly I think thematically it’s probably the best thing Joss decided to go after. Because, you know what I mean? It’s a very kinda typical gung-ho western iconic thing to be like there’s nothing wrong with me. Now let’s begin, you know. And so it’s kind of like an objective, um, introspection at the whole idea. And I think he always thinks about it. Like he says, alright, let me just pretend I’m being pro-offered this narrative at first glance. What do I think? Alright, they’re nuts, you know. It keeps doing a bit of the Noam Chomsky approach [LAUGHS] to Avengers in retrospect which I think is healthy. And I think it also it just opens up a whole other avenue of creativity for it. That’s what I really notice is there’s a lot of dots that could have connected a certain way. But because there’s that theme of could it be that we’re the problem and therefore a bad guy if you wanna call it, I can’t really say there’s a bad guy in — I mean it’s hard to call Jimmy Spader a bad guy. But he’s it’s scary and he’s bright and hurting and all that. But his thought is like, I see what’s wrong here. And guess what? It’s y’all. [LAUGHTER] You know.

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