the take

Robert Downey Jr.: Sober, Successful, Really Boring in Interviews

Photo: Getty Images

Half a decade after kicking drugs, the once uninsurable Robert Downey Jr. finally seems to have successfully rehabbed his career too, with bankable roles in next weekend’s Iron Man and August’s Tropic Thunder. Obviously this is a wonderful thing and no one could be happier … except the New York Times’ David Carr, GQ’s Matthew Klam, and Time’s Rebecca Winters Keegan, the unlucky profile writers recently dispatched to Los Angeles with the evidently impossible task of extracting an interesting interview out of a newly content Robert Downey Jr.

“A trace of [the Iron Man] armor still seemed to be in place early on a recent afternoon in Los Angeles,” says Carr, whose feature, which graced the front page of yesterday’s “Arts & Leisure,” is filled out with quotes from others and stories about the actor’s past exploits, but with very little of the heavy lifting done by Downey himself (“It has struck me lately that I don’t have to talk about last century at all,” he says at one point). In Time, Keegan notes, almost defeatedly, that the man who was once arrested for “driving his Porsche naked down Sunset Boulevard, throwing ‘imaginary rats’ out of his window” has traded fast living for “Team New Downey, a large coterie that includes yogis, massage therapists, martial-arts instructors and people who know about herbs” (and not the fun kind of herbs, either).

GQ’s Klam, despite having the best access of the three — he joins Downey for an afternoon of indoor skydiving and a kung fu lesson — doesn’t fare any better in his May cover profile. Though the story is pegged to Iron Man, Klam spends much of his time trying to provoke the actor by asking about the potential controversy of his blackface role in Tropic Thunder, but he’s mostly interested in praising his co-stars (“Jack Black was so awesome,” “Stiller, I mean, I can’t say enough about the guy,” etc.). “This is as close as I’ll come to witnessing any potential conflict in Downey’s life,” writes Klam after the actor asks his reluctantly obliging butler to make him a protein shake.

Obviously everyone’s glad to see Downey on the wagon and working to his fullest potential again, but surely even happy, sober, successful people can play along with journalists and tell a few funny stories, can’t they? Or, failing that, at least stage an entertaining fight with their butler, right?

The Man in the Irony Mask [GQ]
Been Up, Been Down. Now? Super. [NYT]
Robert Downey Jr.: Back from the Brink [Time]

Related: Wonder Boy [NYM]

Robert Downey Jr.: Sober, Successful, Really Boring in Interviews