Robert Downey Jr. covers the May issue of GQ and, as always, gives a fantastic interview. None of that PR speak that celebrities are so fond of.
RDJ talks about his belief that you always have to think you’re the most talented person in the room. Asked if he thinks he’s actually the greatest actor in the room, he says yes, but it’s not because he’s some great actor but because everyone else just sucks.
But how does that fit in with something you’ve often said—that you have to believe you’re the most talented person on any set?
“Well, I try to instill that in other people, but it only gets you so far. That to me is just the precursor for even getting up, because nobody wants to see somebody struggling with their own confidence—it’s boring and it takes a long time and you’re probably not going to get there.”
But I still believe that you think you’re almost always the most talented person there.
“Yeah, but you know what? I’m afraid that’s just a tape that’s running in my head, and I’m really happy that it’s there, but it doesn’t make it real.”
And so if you stop that tape running for a second, how talented are you?
He smiles. “I’m probably one of the best.”
That was you speaking, and not the tape?
“Yeah. But it’s not that big a deal. It’s not like this is the greatest swath or generation of actors that has ever come down the pike.”
He’s then asked if he really made $50 million for Avengers. The answer in no uncertain terms? God damn right it is, suckers.
“Yeah,” he says, smiling.
Is that number about right?
“Yeah.” A broader smile.
“Isn’t that crazy?” he says. “They’re so pissed. I can’t believe it. I’m what’s known as ‘a strategic cost.’ “
Robert Downey Jr. also keeps a menagerie in his house.
At sunset we walk around the property. I meet his two cats, Monty (named after Field Marshal Montgomery) and Dart (D’Artagnan); his four alpacas, Fuzzy, Baby, Madre, and Dandy; and his two pygmy goats, Trigger and Memo.
I wonder if anyone has asked him why he’s keeping four Taylor Lautner’s in his house or they just nod their head like this is perfectly normal when he introduces them.
But back to his confidence. Even though RDJ hasn’t won an Oscar, it doesn’t bother him. Mostly because he’s sure it’s going to happen at one point or another.
How much would you like to win an Oscar?
“I couldn’t care less.”
“Well, I know it’s going to happen.”
Is that the persona or the person speaking?
“That’s just a fact.”
“I, personally, would be shocked if we went to the end of the tape now and I didn’t have at least one.”
“Because it just doesn’t make sense. That’s why I don’t mind showing up and watching everybody else get them.”
Why doesn’t it make sense?
“Because I’m young enough, and I’m running down being occupied with these kind of genre movies, close enough. Even the next thing we’re doing with the missus, I’m so confident about it. It’s the best script the studio has; it’s the best thing I’ve read in years. You know, honestly, my real answer to that is: I don’t care. I used to think I cared, and I couldn’t care less. Now, I’m not saying I wouldn’t get a little choked up, but it is amazing to see how people are literally hyperventilating when they get up there, because they have such an attachment to this outcome. I mean, it’s not like we’re at the fucking Olympics or something.”
He tempers his view, a little.
“Look, even if I don’t get one directly, eventually they’re just going to have to give me one when I get old. So no matter how you slice it, I’m getting one.”
Just to check: Will one be enough?
“No, I should probably have more. But zero’s fine.” The humility sits there alone for a moment, just long enough to get lonely. “Zero, or two.”
So if anyone is wondering, Robert Downey Jr. is not playing Tony Stark in Ironman, he is Tony Stark. I wouldn’t be surprised if he dressed up as a robot and jumped off a building because he was positive the fireworks he installed in his feet would let him fly.