The first time I sat down with Robert Downey Jr. to talk about all things “Sherlock Holmes,” we were on the set of the first film in London, and I was still working for Ain’t It Cool. As a result, much was made of the idea that Moriarty was going to be visiting that day, and it turned out to be one of the strangest days on a set I’ve ever had.
Strange, but good. What struck me right away was that Downey has that ability to focus his full attention on someone in a conversation in a way that cuts out the rest of the world, making you feel like there’s nothing more urgent than whatever the two of you are discussing.
I took him a gift that day, a copy of a fascinating piece of literary criticism by Pierre Bayard called “Sherlock Holmes Was Wrong: Reopening The Case of The Hound Of the Baskervilles.” I figured it was completely appropriate, and he responded to the gesture by giving me more and more time over the course of the afternoon. It ended up being published as two different articles over at Ain’t It Cool, and that was the end of my use of the name I published under for a full decade-plus.
Or so I thought. After all, I couldn’t very well just ignore it when they finally made a sequel to the Downey film, and this time they decided to use Professor James G. Moriarty as the bad guy. Of course I’m interested. Of course I want to see what they’re up to and how they’ll use him, and of course when the press day rolls around, I want to sit down with Downey to talk to him about facing the greatest villain of his career as a detective.
Just before we started rolling, I also took the time to thank Downey for a kindness he did for my oldest son, Toshi, a few years ago. He didn’t realize Toshi was my son, and I wasn’t present when it happened, but it was backstage at Comic-Con, where my wife was sitting with Toshi when the “Iron Man 2” panel ended in Hall H. As Downey was coming off the stage, Toshi was sitting in a chair near him and yelled, “Hey, Tony!”
Downey walked over to this random cheeky four-year-old and sat down, introducing himself in character. He talked to Toshi about how it was to operate the armor, work with Captain America, and fight bad guys. For four or five minutes, Downey stayed in character until finally he explained that there was an urgent matter that needed his attention, and he excused himself. To this day, Toshi is absolutely sure that he met Tony Stark, and that he got to discuss being Iron Man with him. I told Downey how much that simple act meant to the imaginary life of this little boy, and I thanked him.
This time around, he was just as charming and gracious as he’s been in previous encounters, and I hope you guys enjoy our conversation about what he looks for in collaborators, including bits on “The Avengers,” Shane Black and “Iron Man 3,’ and of course, Sherlock Holmes and this latest adventure.
“Sherlock Holmes – A Game Of Shadows” opens everywhere this Friday