‘The Judge’ director David Dobkin on Robert Downey Jr.’s hilarious introduction to Robert Duvall

Turns out the stars of “The Judge,” Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall, vaguely knew each other before going to film their new drama together. But as director/producer David Dobkin recalls, it's an acquaintanceship that Downey remembers more than Duvall. 

“They had met a few times prior to the movie over the years,” Dobkin told us. “Downey would go up to him in restaurants and see him and say, 'I have to pay my respects! Hi, I'm Robert Downey Jr.!' And then Duvall would say on the other side, 'Never knew who he was.'”

In “The Judge,” Downey is the cynical lawyer son of Duvall, a judge accused of murder, and their contentious relationship is the film's strange, sometimes lovely propellant. Dobkin, who has previously directed movies like “Wedding Crashers” and “The Change-Up,” tells us that Downey was excited about the project because it was, surprisingly, a new type of cinematic venture for him.

“The movie itself was set up as a huge challenge for him, a racetrack he'd never driven or hadn't driven in quite some time,” Dobkin explained. “The truth is, he's at such a height of mastery over his talent, that the scenes were hard but still effortless.”

We also chatted with Dobkin about Downey's similarities with costar Billy Bob Thornton, the greatness of Robert Duvall, and finding humor in very dour scenes.