By Zack Zeigler
With only hours remaining before the whole world gets to see "Iron Man," we here at Marvel.com wanted to get you close enough to the film to feel the heat of a repulsor blast! Our "'Iron Man' Up Close" articles let you hear from the film's key players—the writers yesterday, Jeff Bridges and Terrence Howard today and Jon Favreau, Gwyneth Paltrow and Robert Downey Jr. tomorrow! Enjoy!
According to Jeff Bridges, who landed the role of Obadiah Stane in "Iron Man," the siren song that lured him into the film was not by the concept or plot, but an element that would remain invisible to the audience—the director.
Jeff Bridges as
"The thing that brought me to the party was Jon Favreau," said Bridges. "I saw 'Swingers' when it came out and I thought he did such a brilliant job writing and acting in it. The combination of a guy like Jon and a film like this piqued my interest."
For Bridges, who has appeared in more than 50 films, the opportunity to work with Marvel and Favreau also allowed him to explore a bit as an actor. His character—a ruthless industrialist and business partner of Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.)—was formed by fusing a grab-bag of sources.
"I looked inside myself and thought of elements I might want to use," he said. "I used my family members, I used my father. My father had that kind of gregarious feeling that I felt Obadiah might have. Dick Cheney was also on my list."
The political and social commentary of the movie was also a draw for Bridges.
"It's an interesting theme: what do you do with power once you have it and what are you willing to do to maintain what you have?" he asked. "The movie didn't ram a message down our throats by promoting one [side] or the other, but hopefully it will promote discussion."
Terrence Howard as
Col. James Rhodes
Terrence Howard, who plays Col. James Rhodes, or Rhodey, a personal friend of Tony Stark, also cited the implications of misuses of power as an interesting message in the film.
"There's this false idea that the bigger stick is the one that can keep the peace," Howard said. "Wake up, wake up and beware that everything you think is going on is not necessarily going on. Be accountable for what you're doing; beware of the consequences of everything you do."
In the movie, Rhodes sees that message personified in Stark.
"Rhodey could always trump [Tony] because he's always been doing things for the sake of duty or honor," said Howard. "There's a purpose and integrity and there's benefit. But when Tony says…I'm not going to do this for the sake of country but for the sake of humanity, that pulls Rhodey into [Tony's] world. Rhodey will step aside from duty to country and remember the duty to humanity as a being of a greater need."
If the satisfaction of playing a role that had positive implications for civilization wasn't enough, Howard said working alongside Downey would be.
"Robert is like Tony…he's crazy, and I mean crazy in genius," he said. "He's probably one of the smartest actors I've ever worked with in my entire life."."
Need to catch up on your Iron Man reading? Looking for the perfect stories starring Ol' Shellhead? Check out our list of the 10 Collections marked as required reading by any Iron Man fan!
See "Iron Man" now at a theater near you! Visit the official "Iron Man" movie site! Also, get INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #1 at comic retailers everywhere, Wed., May 7!