Robert Downey Jr. is retired, at least from the MCU, meaning he never has to strap on that clunky helmet again. And that’s good news for him because he hated wearing it. The actor and occasional singer was one of David Letterman’s guests on the upcoming season of his Netflix chat show My Next Guest Needs No Introduction, alongside the likes of Lizzo, Kim Kardashian West, and Dave Chappelle. And when the aggressively bearded former late night host about Iron Man helmet, saying “Is that thing really there?”, his guest had some thoughts.
“Excellent question,” Downey replied with a big smirk, ready to reveal the irksome evolution of the costume that helped take his career next level. It didn’t start off so well. “Initially everything was there. They wanted to spend as little as they could on CG replacements.” (As you’ll recall, the first Iron Man was seen as a potentially risky proposition, “only” costing about $140 million in 2008 dollars.)
Downey went on to describe how the filmmakers assumed he could actually act with the helmet on.
I remember this helmet went on, then there’d be a shot, I’d be in this whole suit. And they’d say, ‘Alright, Robert, it’s like you’ve landed on the roof, so when we say action, just go like that, like you just landed, and start moving forward.’ So I moved with this helmet on, and it slammed closed, so I couldn’t see anything. And then these LED lights went on, and it was like Manchurian Candidate, like I was absolutely blinded.
It got better, but it appears he grew reluctant to have an actual helmet on his actual head at all. “By the time we were doing the last Avengers, they’d be like, ‘Hey, Robert, would you mind putting on that…’,” Downey said. To which he would reply, “Helmet? No. Yes? No. Paint two dots here and you can paint it in later.”
You can find out what other tidbits Downey dished out to Letterman when the show’s third season drops on Netflix on October 21. Perhaps he has some choice words about acting with another menace — CGI talking animals — in his notorious stab at Doctor Dolittle.