Iron Man Month

Iron Man Up Close: Favreau, Downey & Paltrow

The film's director and lead actors discuss the movie



By Zack Zeigler Ready for "Iron Man"?! Well, before you head out to your favorite theater, we here at 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 on Thursday, Jeff Bridges and Terrence Howard yesterday and Jon Favreau, Robert Downey Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow today! Enjoy!
Jon Favreau

"Iron Man" Director
Jon Favreau

Perhaps it's manifest destiny for a director to gravitate towards bigger pictures that require budgets only Tony Stark himself has the coin to front. However, "Iron Man" director Jon Favreau's case is different. Since making the transition from the indie scene to one of Hollywood's most revered all-around talents, Favreau's core instincts have not dissipated with his leap to directing blockbusters. "I didn't want ['Iron Man'] to feel like some heavy, preplanned movie that didn't have any life to it," Favreau said. "There were certain things that couldn't move [in the film] because of the nature of effects and because of the logistics of a movie of this size. But if it's two people talking or hanging out—if it's Tony (Robert Downey Jr.) and Rhodey (Terrence Howard) on the plane— set up some cameras and give yourself some flexibility…let it feel like a slice of life when you can." Favreau sought a tone that mirrored reality for two reasons: audiences can connect with it and, well, he's just in his element. "That's when I work best as a director, and I can bring my humor into it and humanize these people so you can feel like you're watching real people experience this thing," he said. With devoted Iron Man fans and casual moviegoers to please, the infusion of realness on the big screen needed to extend further than the script or acting. "You have to make the effects look real so you're not taken out of the movie," he said. "You can't have that happen. It has to be a seamless transition." The Marvel Universe should sleep soundly knowing one of their most beloved characters was under such care. According to Favreau, the supportive relationship between he and Marvel was something that allowed the film to evolve. "Marvel was pliable when it comes to their creative concerns," Favreau said. "And because it's for Marvel, I felt we needed to take the source material into account and also make a movie that was profitable for them because they're betting their first big movie on me and I want to see them do well and I want to do more of these [types of films]." With creative liberty to uncover new avenues for scenes, character and dialogue, changes were often made on the fly. "There were certain things that did change, the action, the story…We knew what had to happen [in the movie], but there was always a more clever way to do something," Favreau said. "There was always a different version of the scene between Tony and Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow); so you set up two cameras and you get what's written and then I'd throw something [in] from the sidelines. I'd see something they do and I'd say, 'Explore that further.'" And with Robert Downey Jr.'s talent, that whimsical style worked flawlessly. "[Downey] is always good. He's funny. He has the same subversive sense of humor that Tony Stark and I do; he's an improviser. I can play with him. He's like the number one draft pick. And look at the cast who wanted to work with him. I felt…he'd add dimension to the roll." Robert Downey Jr.

Robert Downey, Jr.
as Tony Stark

There are numerous reasons the cast of "Iron Man" wanted to work with Robert Downey Jr. Two of the most frequently mentioned were his unparalleled dedication to the craft of acting and the ways his natural instincts always seem to add a certain polish to his roles. "I feel like I've been in a zone for an entire year," said Downey. "And one of the cool things about this whole experience with Jon and 'Iron Man' was that for all the money, the fun, the suit, the CGI, the explosions, the hardware…we led this very monastic and disciplined existence while we were doing it." That focus was necessary because of what "Iron Man" represented to Downey, Favreau, Marvel and the character's loyalists. "We put the pressure on ourselves," he said. "You only get one shot at doing the first one right, and if you blow that, there's no way we'd be able to do more. We [worked so hard] so when it came to the showdown, we'd have the energy and the sense of humor to invest it with the sense of realism." Gwyneth Paltrow

Gwyneth Paltrow
as Pepper Potts

Gwyneth Paltrow credits Downey's involvement as her first attraction to "Iron Man." An added bonus were the commonalities between her daily existence and the character she'd bring to life: Pepper Potts. "She's very organized and I'm centered, grounded and organized, but I can also become thrown off balance," Paltrow said. "I love the fact that she can be next to this fiery, creative, strong man and bring out the best in him." The character of Pepper Potts is anything but one-dimensional, and the methods to find the different facets of the relationship between Stark and Potts meant Paltrow needed to study and dissect their relationship. "He's her boss, but she is also mothering towards him. She's very loyal, almost like a sister in a way. She's protective but there's also this sexual chemistry. It was fun to play [this role] because it wasn't just one vibe."
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!
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