Though the title may imply it, this article is by no measure about the physical prowess or sexual desirability of Iron Man star Robert Downey Jr. I am perhaps the worst person to comment on such things as I do, in fact, dig chicks. Though, it goes without saying that RDJ is a pretty handsome dude — if I were a lady, I would want to stalk him.
But alas, this article is not about all of that, it is about the fact that with his resurgence into the mainstream with his role in Iron Man, Downey has become one of Hollywood’s hottest commodities of the moment. In fact, as Nicole Sperling at EW.com reports, Downey is currently being courted by just about every major studio for an impressive handful of high-profile projects. Twentieth Century Fox would love to lock him into Travis McGee, based on a popular detective series by John D. MacDonald; Warner Bros. is after him to star in Sherlock Holmes, a project that has already roped in director Guy Ritchie; Universal is interesting in him for Dog Years, a fantasy/comedy from Seabiscuit director Gary Ross as well as the much talked about Hugh Hefner biopic which is currently still in the hands of Brett Ratner. Not to mention the fact that negotiations should begin soon with Marvel Studios and Paramount around Iron Man 2, a project thats survival could depend on the involvement of both Downey and director Jon Favreau.
Needless to say, Downey has become red-hot in the summer of 2008, and he’s not even done at the box office yet. He will make his most interesting appearance of the year in Ben Stiller’s satirical action comedy Tropic Thunder, where he plays an award-winning Australian actor whose vanity drives him to die his skin black in order to play an African American character.
All of this has brought a media circus to his doorstep, with studios and journos alike flocking to him as if he were the next big thing. But at 43, Downey isn’t an actor who is rising to his prime, he is an actor whose prime has gone under-recognized. Too many of us (in the world of film journalism) have been left to sit back in our office chairs, pounding our fists on the desk and screaming “this is what we’ve been telling you..” when it comes to the career of Mr. Downey.
With his recent roles in films such as David Fincher’s Zodiac and the under-marketed, yet brilliant Charlie Bartlett, Downey solidified for many that he is still has the chops to be a big star. And now, with the success of Iron Man, he is not only a great actor, but a significantly more marketable one. So when you look at his future, as bright as it may seem, remember that it wasn’t just the big summer of 2008 that did it — Robert Downey Jr. has been doing it all along. He is just now getting the credit he has deserved for a long, long time.
Sound Off: What is your favorite Robert Downey Jr. performance, besides Iron Man? Also, which of the projects listed above do you think would be most interesting?