Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Iron Man - SciFi Weekly: Interviews with 'Iron Man' Cast

From the SciFi Channel's SciFi Weekly:

(Please follow the link for the complete interviews.)


April 30, 2008

Jon Favreau directs Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeff Bridges and Terrence Howard to build a better Iron Man

By Ian Spelling

The summer moviegoing season will kick off officially on May 2 with director Jon Favreau's highly anticipated adaptation of Iron Man. And the excitement is understandable. Iron Man—which sees a playboy weapons maker emerge as the titular iron-clad superhero—is an all-star affair that casts Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man; Gwyneth Paltrow as his loyal assistant, Pepper Potts; Terrence Howard as his military contact, James "Rhodey" Rhodes; and Jeff Bridges as mentor-turned-sworn-enemy Obadiah Stane.

SCI FI Weekly recently ventured to New York City to catch up with Downey, Paltrow, Howard, Bridges and Favreau.

Q: Robert Downey, did you do this movie for your kids?

Downey: The funny thing is, when I was researching I asked for every single piece of information they had on Iron Man. They were like, "No, no. We'll send you over a package." I was like, "May I have every single piece you have on Iron Man?" So when the merchandise started coming out I said, "May I have every single thing that is part of the merchandising?" They said, "Robert, that would be like a truck." I was like, "May I have ..." And they said, "Oh, no problem." But anyway, there's all the cool stuff and the Nerf thing and the this and sippy cups and Slurpees and the whole deal, but there's this little book, which probably cost 5 cents to make. It's a little flipbook, and at the end of the flipbook it says, "Iron Man defeated the evil Obadiah Stane. He would never hurt anybody again." And I look on the front and it says "For ages 4+," you know? It's pretty wild and cool to think that I could be participating in this tradition of being kind of twice removed, but pretty directly involved in something that can affect that wide an audience.

Q: Gwyneth Paltrow, some people are surprised that you're in this movie ...

Paltrow: I don't know why people are so surprised.

Q: You don't generally make movies like this ...

Paltrow: Well, but I just hadn't. That doesn't mean I wouldn't. The reason I wanted to do it was because the group of people was so brilliant. It's like, how do you not do that movie? I hadn't worked in, really, since ... I was pregnant with [daughter] Apple when I did Proof, and that was a long time ago, and it came out a ways after we had shot it. So it seemed like I had worked sooner than I had. And in that time I did a few little things, but not a big part or anything. I kind of wanted to go back to work. I started to feel the thing of "I have something to say. I'm here because I have something to say and I have a way to say it." I thought if in about a year, when my son is a year [old], if there's something that seemed like it'd be fun and inspiring and not too demanding—because going back to work, I was very nervous about it—I'll do it. And then Jon called, and he explained what the movie was, what it was going to be kind of at face value, and what the sort of other metaphors in the movie were. He explained my character, and he was like, "She's going to be great. You're going to have fun. It's going to be good scenes." So I said, "OK, I'll do it." And I'm so happy that I said that, because I just had such a good time. Those guys are brilliant. I grew up always wanting to work with Robert, and Jeff Bridges is, like, The Big Lebowski. I mean, he's a god. He's an acting god.

Q: Terrence Howard, there's a great in-joke where you see an Iron Man suit and react to it. That's a teaser for a possible evolution into War Machine ...

Howard: Robin might get to ride in the Batmobile one day. No, I'm pretty sure we're gonna go there. The response to even that one little statement, the roar in the audience ... I didn't know that War Machine was so beloved or anticipated until sitting in an audience and hearing that.

Q: Jeff Bridges, in playing Stane, did you go by what was on paper or were you part of the improv process?

Bridges: This is interesting, "what's on the paper," because it was rarely on the paper. I always thought that these big multimillion-dollar movies, that the special effects are so expensive that they would want to have all the dialogue and be very prepared that way, so that everything [he snaps his fingers] would go quicker. But I found out that that's not the case with these movies. Often the dialogue is kind of left as a last-minute thing, you know? That was tough, because you base your character on what is said about you and what you say, and if that's not solid, then who are you, what are you? So I showed [my ideas] to Jon, so that we were all on the same page. Occasionally that would have to change as we started to discover each day who people were and that sort of thing. So often we would show up for work not knowing what we were going to say. We'd meet in Jon's trailer for a couple of hours and throw ideas around and improvise and put it on one of these little tape recorders. And that's what we said. Jon is to blame, I think, for the success of the movie. As far as I'm concerned, I think it came out wonderfully. I was concerned. It took me a while to kind of get with the program and not spend all that energy bitching about the way it was, because that's not how I like to work. But that's kind of the assignment often; you're dealt a hand of the different people you're working with, and everything is very different. They were very lucky to have Jon and Robert, too, who's also a great improviser.

Q: Jon Favreau, you cast Robert Downey as Tony Stark/Iron Man. Downey has had his share of ups and downs. What did that lend to his portrayal of the character?

Favreau: Downey had a lot in common with Tony Stark. Stark was a guy who lived in the public eye and had succeeded and failed in a very public way, and Robert was able to just really own the idea of being this very intelligent, very public figure who's known by everybody whenever he walks into a room. Robert has lived that. He doesn't push it in the movie. You just know that he gets it. When he walks up a red carpet in the movie or is helped into a limo or walks through a casino floor, you know that this is a guy who has lived with this kind of fame and exposure, and I think that adds dimension to an otherwise two-dimensional genre, when you have a guy who can bring that type of depth and experience to a role.


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