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Robert Downey Jr. Says Being Recast As Iron Man Would “Probably Be The Best Thing In The World”

We’re moving ever closer to the next installment of Marvel’s Iron Man, getting new posters every few days, and anxiously awaiting another trailer. And while Robert Downey Jr. may have bombed at the Oscars along with his Avengers co-stars, we know he’ll always be awesome as Tony Stark. Or will he? In a recent interview with Empire Magazine, the actor talked about his long love affair with the character and how it may be time for someone to replace him. 

In the latest print issue of Empire Magazine, Downey discussed the role he’s held onto since 2008′s Iron Man and the quality of his work since then.

“Let’s just say that the only thing I ever let go of had claw marks in it,” he said when asked if he wanted to return to play Tony Stark after Iron Man 3. So yes, he absolutely loves the role but even he’s not sure he can do it forever.

“There’s a little bit of soul reclamation going on. I feel that the first time I played Tony, I did it best,” he said. “Sorry! The affinity with Tony now is: how do you sustain something? I’m not stupid, I like to play ball, I love the company, I love the character, and the business side of things, I’m not to picky about that either.”

The actor hasn’t really played many roles other than Tony Stark in the last few years, what about recasting him? “It would probably be the best thing in the world for me. You know, ego…but sometimes ego just has to be smashed. Let’s see what happens. I take the audience very seriously – I feel bad when I see folks doing movies and the audience is like, ‘Don’t do that anymore.’ I don’t have to overstay my welcome.”

Downey’s contract with Marvel is up after Iron Man 3 which leaves room for negotiation for The Avengers 2. But President of Production at Marvel Studios Kevin Feige makes us worried when he says things like, “Tony’s going to carry on. Avengers 2 already has a release date!” Because well, he said Tony, not Robert.

I’m assuming the studio will throw Downey tons of money to return for Avengers 2 but from what he said here, I’m not sure he’d sign a contract that agreed to anything more. Would you accept a recast of Iron Man or should Marvel let the character lie low for a few years while they focus on other Marvel characters?

(via io9)

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  • TKS

    I would be sad. I liked the mix they had in Avengers, to mix it up would mix me up.

  • Nicole Elizabeth Currie

    I’m not gonna lie- RDJ is Tony Stark to my mind. I watch other RDJ movies, and am like ‘Hey! Tony’s in the movie!’. I don’t think I could watch a movie with another actor cast as Tony- I’m pretty sure RDJ is perfect in the role.
    On a side note, it makes me sad that they sucked at the Oscars. RDJ and Gwenyth Paltrow were epic last year.

  • Captain ZADL

    He’s not so old he can’t keep playing the part. I mean it makes sense for Chris Pine to replace Bill Shatner, but RDJ isn’t there yet. If they did a story with Arno Stark replacing Tony, I’d be fine with that. Generational stories are fine, new guy in the suit and all. But RDJ is Tony for a while.

  • Christina Morejon

    RDJ IS tony stark (for this generation) and if they recast him, Im definitely NOT watching any further Iron man movies. sorry.

  • Ryan Colson

    James Franco can pull this off if he has to, but that’d mean youngerizing Tony, but he has that sense of snark and when he’s firing on all his cylinders he’s pretty much the same as RDJ.

  • Ryan Colson

    Since the suit is always CGI, I do wonder how hard it is to just do the suit and have RDJ voice it, though. We don’t really always need his face visible.
    But like I said, I’m cool with a replacement.

  • Ryan Colson

    They replace your generation’s Marvel characters like clockwork, you’ll be fine lol

  • Anonymous

    If it got to the point where Downey no longer wanted to do it I’d rather they just retire the character. After all there’s only so many characters you can cram into the Avengers anyway. It’d give Marvel incentive to groom more franchises and introduce new characters.

  • Allstarme

    If there was an Iron Man 4 with another person, that might be OK but if they do Avengers 2 without him, I will be very sad. I think everyone has to return for at least the second one.

  • Anonymous

    As long as he at least does Avengers 2. The build up to that is and will be a big deal. To have someone else play Iron Man in that would be like pulling a plug too early. It would really ruin the vibe of the film.

  • Lisa Liscoumb

    Nononono! RDJ is Tony Stark to me. I’d much rather they retire Iron Man than recast. It just wouldn’t be the same.

  • Shael Riley

    They should let the character lie low forever, while they focus on no other Marvel characters.

    Every Marvel film has been terrible.

  • drgeek

    Clearly no one is serious when they say let Iron Man lie low *forever* right? Are we that short-sighted? So, hypothetical: RDJ is 80 years old, and a fantastic Iron Man story arc from the comics in the year 2032 gets optioned for a film, and we demand they not make it, or, cast the 80 year old since “RDY *is* Stark”??? This is not a serious position. So, the question is, as it always is, “How soon?” The answer is variable and difficult, but keep RDJ as long as possible, and when he is done with the character, give it – i don’t know – a decade or so, until another great script comes along and another actor fits the bill. Let the script quality and good casting guide the decision for a change, and not $. Surely there can be *other* takes on a character, even if the first was definitive?

  • Anonymous

    Avengers 2 would be a fitting last hurrah.

  • The Gaf

    F you Downey, you signed up for it, and made the $$, NOW DO YOUR JOB. We demand you be Tony Stark until you die. Enjoy!

  • Anonymous

    Hard to imagine anyone else in the role. I would rather he stay as long as he thought he was doing the role justice.

  • Frank

    I bet his wife is sick of his Tony Stark persona. Hopefully he will quit before she quits him.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t believe you.

  • Anonymous

    Only the Hulk so far, IIRC (?)

  • Carrie

    I love him in the role so I’d be sad to see Robert Downey Jr give up Iron Man, however I have often thought that Nathan Fillion would be equally good in the role. I think he has the right balance of cool charm and super-hero handsomeness.

    Pretty unlikely he’d take over though! Just always thought if RDJ had never taken the part, Fillion might’ve been a good alternative.

  • Anonymous

    Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark is quite possibly the best casting I’ve seen in a Superhero movie since Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier. It just makes too much sense for that actor to play that incarnation of that character for it to be anyone else.

    Having said that, after Avengers 2 I’m okay with maybe taking the focus off of Stark for a little while. I get why he had to be the central focus of this series but it’s grown into a self sustaining thing now that doesn’t need Stark as the glue to hold it all together now.

    I see no need to recast him, just widen your focus a bit.

  • Jeff

    I can see what he’s saying especially if he’s worried about diminishing creative output, I mean who honestly says the 4th movie in a series is their favorite. He might want to leave on a high point before the franchise becomes stale or begins tarnishing what it’s built up.

    Honestly I hope they don’t recast him and just let the Iron Man series sit for awhile. I think an Iron Man movie with an older Tony Stark movie would actually work. If he wants to leave though I hope it’s after Avengers 2, or hopefully an Iron Man 4. One last hurrah and all.

  • Anonymous

    Time for Disney to back up a dump truck of cash onto his lawn.

  • Kay Livingston

    This may be the unpopular opinion, but I COULD be okay with a recast. No one could ever be Tony but RDJ, because RDJ is Tony in real life and he is amazing at it, but I wouldn’t mind if we slotted in a new actor for occasional appearances or guest starring roles. I think it’s wildly unrealistic to keep making Iron Man movies without RDJ, and I don’t know if I could get behind that, but I want more Marvel cinematic universe content in general.

    Ideally, of course, there would be roles for NEW actors — maybe more women and non-white actors, looking at you, AKA Jessica Jones — but I can certainly imagine they might need more Tony appearances in the future for things other than a full-on feature film starring him.

  • Corey Scott

    Downey has clear license to play Tony until the end of time (or at least his time acting). Stark is a character that is more distinguished, so getting older doesn’t hold an actor back from portraying, like say it would with Batman (unless you go Miller’s Dark Knight). There is no one better, or even as suited to the role than Downey is. Plus, the entire Marvel superhero movie franchise owes itself to his portrayal (and Favreu’s original film).

  • nclowe

    They’d have to retire the character. RDJ IS Tony Stark. It would be like someone other than Harrison Ford playing Han Solo…..oh wait….

  • Anonymous

    I’m clearly in the minority here, but I have no problem with someone other than RDJ playing Tony Stark. I thought Downey did fine, but he’s never actually blown me away, and I certainly don’t feel any particular affinity for the Iron Man movies. Personally, I always thought a young Timothy Dalton (circa 1980s) would be absolutely awesome as Tony. Ah well, I can dream…

  • Laura Truxillo


    Tony Stark IS RDJ. I mean, Robert Downey Jr IS Tony Stark! I mean…

    No, but seriously, he does this character best. He embodies Tony Stark so perfectly, through multiple iterations. If they cast someone new, he’d always be in RDJ’s shadow, probably trying to do his own thing and make the role his own, and really, there’s not a way to do Tony better than RDJ does. I can see the character changing–becoming older, wiser, crazier, less crazy, however it goes. But it’s GOT to be Stark playing it.

  • Kate

    I agree completely. There’d be some ridiculously big shoes to fill if he left, to the extent that I don’t know if the fandom as a whole would accept another actor, even if they were pretty good.

  • John Ender

    I’d figured he had 4 to 5 films as Tony… I mean how long has on actor played James Bond for example, He was great but you need to maintain an influx of new actors so we can get used to it, What happened with the Hulk being Cast 3 times should be looked at as the other side of what happens when you create a Universe Cinematically that does not move in ‘real’ time nor has an ending in site… Unless we want endless Retcons and retellings like Amazing Spiderman

  • Michelle Mista

    I dunno if I could ever accept anyone but RDJ as a live action Tony Stark. I doubt I’d watch Avengers 2 if someone other than RDJ was Tony Stark. As it is, sometimes I have trouble figuring out where RDJ ends and Tony begins.

  • The Gaf

    wow. Note to self. Sarcasm not appreciated.

  • Anonymous

    I’m pretty sure a recast would flop. It would be better for Stark to be written out for a bit, if Downey can’t or won’t return for more Avengers movies (though I really hope he does!).

  • Hannah Chaplin

    No one can EVER replace RDJ as Tony Stark when I see a picture of Tony or read the comics I always think of RDJ. I don’t think anyone else with be able to play Tony Stark. He is just amazing at it and I don’t want him to quit. I love him as Tony Stark, he is probably the main reason I got into Marvel.

  • Joshua Paul Hawkins

    The man needs to finish what he started. Avengers 2 has got to be a better stepping off point than whatever the hell is coming out on May 3rd.

  • Ben Stanton

    If RDJ stops playing Tony Stark, then Tony Stark should die.

  • Ian McLean

    If RDJ is leaving, they should just kill off Iron Man at the end of IM3.

  • Shakil Ahmed

    i think if RDJ want to leave after avengers 2 as tony stark then i’ll say don’t reboot him just for one movie cause if RDJ leave after avengers 2 then we got only avengers 3 movie left which we need iron man. so instead of replace him and get new face for avengers 3 why not kill tony stark on end of avengers 2 and for avengers 3 bring James Rhodes / War Machine on iron man place. atleast the will make sense. that Rhodes took over after his friend dead to honor him and marvel phase 3 could go on with the new avengers story line. i’m sure the fan will love it instead of new face. but i wouldn’t try to change him cause he’s more like lead role of the avengers so now if marvel want a new iron man and replace RDJ so it will look weird on avengers movie. if still marvel want to someone else to play iron man then i’ll say reboot the whole avengers team.

  • John Weber

    I hate to sound like a jerk about this, but I honestly think it’s shortsighted to believe that nobody else ever should or could play Iron Man. Though admittedly, I was introduced to the Iron Man character/mythos before the 2008 film where it seems like most of the non-comic fan general audiences got their first real look at him and thus is the reason for why people are having a hard time differentiating the character from the actor. I mean think about it. People were saying the same things when Sean Connery was playing James Bond. (From what I’ve heard at lest) People talking about how great he was, and how nobody could every replace or top him in the role, etc. And look at what happened after he left the roles. Every Bond that followed him, sans George Lazenby, is either generally liked or at least has a pretty strong following to some degree. Many people even consider the most modern actor Daniel Craig to be the best of them. Also consider another similar case such as the casting of Heath Ledger as The Joker. Everybody was against it from the getgo and claimed that he would never be able to top Jack Nicholson, but ever since the movie was released the tables have turned completely. And I’m sure there are other examples of this line of thought as well. I hope that when the time comes for the torch to be passed that the new guy will be given a fair shake. Now that’s not to say I want to see Robert Downey Jr. leave any time soon. I hope we get to keep him around in the role for a good while longer, but I don’t like this notion people have created that there can ever be only one Tony Stark. Just my 2 cents on the subject.

  • Herostratus356

    Rather than being recast, I would rather Marvel take the opportunity to give new superheroes their own solo movies. I’m hoping for Carol Danvers, Dr. Strange, and the Inhumans.