Robert Downey Jr. is hard at work promoting his new documentary, Sr., an in-depth look at the man who shares his namesake Robert Downey Sr. In a sprawling new interview that dives deep into their unusual father/son relationship, an open and candid Downey reflected on his transformative career and responded to Quentin Tarantino‘s recent remarks that Marvel actors aren’t movie stars.
As the godfather of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, you’d assume Downey would give one of his pithy responses as he done in the past when people have criticized the Marvel films. But this time around, the actor is now three years removed from playing Tony Stark and just completed work on Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer. Instead, Downey gave a more profound response about the constant need to thread the needle between commerce and art.
I think our opinions on these matters say a lot about us. I think that we are in a time and place that I unwittingly contributed to, where IP has taken precedence over principle and personality. But it’s a double-edged sword. A piece of IP is only as good as the human talent you get to represent it, and you can have some great IP even if it’s coming from an auteur or a national treasure of a writer-director, and if you don’t have the right kind of artist playing that role, you’ll never know how good it could have been.
Of course, Downey couldn’t help but offer a more blunt reaction about the state of the industry, but in the spirit of celebrating all filmmakers.
“I think that creatively it is a waste of time to be at war with ourselves,” Downey said. “I think this is a time when everything is so much more fragmented now that I think you have this kind of bifurcation. Throwing stones one way or another … and I’ve had my reactions in the past when people said things that I felt were discrediting my integrity … I go, ‘You know what? Let’s just get over it. We’re all a community. There’s enough room for everything,’ and thank God for Top Gun: Maverick and Avatar: The Way of Water. That’s all I have to say. We need the big stuff to make room for films like Armageddon Time.”