Iron Man 3 is set to be one of the biggest movies of the year as we see Robert Downey Jr return to the role of Tony Stark.
Robert Downey Jr, Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Ben Kingsley, Rebecca Hall Shane Black and Drew Pearce were all in London last week to chat about the movie.
- First of all Drew you should be applauded for getting Croyden into the script, so well done for that. But the tone of the movie is incredible so how did you manage to get that tone into the script?
Drew Pearce: It helps if you co-write it wish Shane Black, who also directed the movie. And it also helps if you have these guys actually in the film.
Also we had an amazing template with Iron Man one and all the work that Jon Favreau did there. So really it was ours to screw up - hopefully we haven’t done that.
- Don the relationships between James Rhodes and Tony Stark continues to develop with this movie so was that fun to explore?
Don Cheadle: Well I always have fun with Robert whenever we do anything and we really did have a lot of fun making this movie.
We had an opportunity to really take this relationship to the next level and I had a lot of fun in some rooms with Shane and Drew really chopping it up.
- Ben this is a whole new world for you so how did you find stepping into that world?
Ben Kingsley: As a compliment to the rest of the people and the table, and deeply intended, the welcome that they give to a new boy is extraordinary.
I think that this is a measure of their confidence and their joy in what they do and what they have created in the franchise and the welcome that gave to me was so assured, generous and confident that within seconds I felt like a team player. It really was an extraordinary experience for me.
- Gwyneth we really see Pepper Potts kick some ass in this movie so that must have been a lot of fun?
It really was great. Part of the fun of doing these films is that Pepper keeps on evolving and it really was a lot of fun.
- Robert we see Tony Stark stripped for the first time so how exciting was it to explore the many layers of this character?
We all figured after Avengers Assemble we couldn’t go for more of a spectacle and I am just so pleased that people who are seeing the movie are telling us that we did this correctly.
Enough for me to be proud that the next instalment will just be me and Rebecca (Hall) and it will be called Iron Man 4: Parade’s End.
- Rebecca similar to Ben you are one of the new additions as you take on the role of Maya Hansen so what do you think is her attraction to Tony Stark?
Rebecca Hall: No idea. I think that there are quite similar as she is an equally driven scientific genius and there is a parity between them - but not at the same time. She is incredibly focused and has almost tunnel vision in that sense.
- Iron Man 3 is almost a sequel to two movies did you bear that in mind when you started working on this project?
Shane Black: I think when you do anything that is number three in the series you have to just ask yourself ‘how can we pretend that this was going to happen anyway? What story can we tell that makes it seem in retrospect to get itself told?’
You had to find things about Iron Man that hadn’t been mined yet and try to include them in such a way that… in true this is not a trilogy as there is this little movie called Avenges Assemble in the middle; it is almost like a trilogy and then us so it was a bit weird.
He saves the world and he perfects his technology and Iron Man has emerged as this superhero and then you have this fourth movie. So we were looking for the thing that hadn’t been explored yet and trying to find something different.
And Jon Favreau was just a god damn prince I would say to him ‘what was your thinking? How do you stay true to the lineage and the legacy of what you have established and make a different movie to Avengers Assemble but one that is consistent to what has gone before?’
And this is a guy who could have turned around and said ‘I am not in this anymore’ and yet he was the most gracious, helpful, wonderful participant and he really did help me.
- The movie looks at the idea that Tony Stark is enhanced by the Iron Man suit so how much do you think that that defines him?
Ben Kingsley: I think that the film really does explore the exterior, the suit, the layer and what is inside it on many levels. I think that is what Drew and Shane gave heart and vulnerability to it as there are moments of terrific violence always followed by a moment of tenderness, comradeship, banter and vulnerability.
I think that the structure of the film and its grace, for me, to participate in is that movement from the indestructible and infallible to the completely vulnerable. So it is those swings that really fascinate me.
I know that we were all keen to be on the same page so to explore the bubble that you live in and what is in the middle of the bubble. I live in a bubble anyway so I was fine.
- I took my eight and six year olds to see the movie and it did trigger an argument in the car on the way home about who have the best suit, Don or Robert. So who do you think had the best suit?
Robert Downey Jr: We just wanted to get to a point were kids would be having that conversation when they left the theatre.
We wanted people to be having conversations about genetic enhancements and is terrorism media driven, without being political. So I am very happy that those arguments are occurring as they are arguments about entertainment.
- Towards the end of the film there a big reveal where we learn that a certain character is not what they seem so did you rehearse that scene heavily or was it improvised? And how did you all bounce off each other in that particular scene?
Shane Black: These are fabulously talented people who have the ability to make structure seem like improvisation. They knew the scene backwards and forwards but they performed it in such a loose and wonderful way that it makes it seem like it is just occurring in the moment and that they are dancing and thinking on their feet.
We covered it like any other scene and we filmed it like any other scene and I think that it is the truest to the script of almost every scene in there - it is also the best because of the talents of the people involved. At the end of that shooting day the crew spontaneously applauded after that scene.
- Ben what was your reaction when you were handed the script which suggested that you were playing a man with more than touch of theatrical ham running through his backbone?
Ben Kingsley: I felt completely at home when I read the script. The many devices that The Mandarin employs all of them are rooted in observation on my part; I won’t name names but some of the audience may recognise that I am doing them.
It was a beautiful script and, as Shane rightly points out, there was very little deviation from what was on the page by Drew and Shane. I love good writing and there as our map and our mandate and we followed it pretty much to the letter.
- Tony Stark is suffering from post traumatic stress disorder and despite that he keeps on moving forward so how did you manage to achieve that balance as because so many movies tend to cry over those things or suffer from depression but Tony Stark really does seem unbreakable?
Robert Downey Jr: What I really liked about this was in a post Avengers world we asked questions ‘wouldn’t be a little bit freaked out?’ and that became part of the theme. Sir Ben is right in that some of the stuff we didn’t rest on our laurels but we exacted it as well… we were very flexible and we often talks about things.
What Sir Ben isn’t telling you is that in other scenes and parts of the movie where we would thrown anything and everything at him and he would bounce it back and it would have been in the movie - he was throwing heat like it was the sixth game of the World Series and he was the pitcher.
Gwyneth and I have made a habit of doing that with Tony and Pepper and when Rebecca joined us - she operates in Tony’s past as she is the prime mover in the story going forward - and we tried to be as flexible as possible.
The trauma thing for me was asking the question and getting away from this ‘we can’t get away from the spectacle of Avengers so wouldn’t he be like this if we were back in Tony’s world?’
- You are in great shape for the movie so did you do anything specific as you were getting ready for the movie? And of the Marvel movies that you have done which was the most physically challenging and why?
Robert Downey Jr: I am required to say that I was doing some Tracy Anderson training. I hate to say it but Don is actually in better shape than I am and is more physically capable.
Don Cheadle: No, no.
Robert Downey Jr: But I am not going to let it stay like that - when fitness magazines are asking me what I am up to that is what moves me. I want there to be no question that the dialogue between Don and I about who is more fit is going to end with Iron Man 17.
Don and Gwyneth and I moved around more than we expected to.
Don Cheadle Yeah, I think this movie was the toughest.
- This is obviously a huge franchise so did you have any trepidations in getting on board that juggernaut? This movie also sees you reunite with Robert Downey Jr so is there any chance of a sequel to Kiss Kiss Bang Bang?
Shane Black: Taking the second part first it would be nice wouldn’t it? But no, it just didn’t make the coffers.
It doesn’t matter because to make an action movie I think that we all know what that is supposed to be and it is just quantifying it; so the action doesn’t change. More importantly it’s about generating a story that works as that is very important to me.
Movies look great nowadays, for the most part, and they sound great - you don’t hear someone say ‘I just went to see the latest blockbuster and god is sounded shitty’ - as technically things are perfect.
The stories however are not always engaging and so as long as I had a chance to give flesh to a story that makes sense and I had people on board to collaborate with like Robert I know that it will be fun.
I don’t care how much it costs or on what scale that it is at the story is what is important - the spectacle is simply a part of telling the story not the other way around.
- Shane is obviously new in the director’s chair so Robert I was wondering if it was invigorating to have a whole new take on this character this time around? And would you direct a Marvel movie?
Robert Downey Jr: First of all I had a really good time making this movie - I don’t often set out to imagine that I am going to have a fun time shooting as while they are genre movies we do take them seriously and then they get all stressy.
The one thing you shouldn’t have said Shane is that you don’t care how much it costs because you are going to get offered a bunch of movies and you have to be mindful of budget. In case you haven’t noticed Shane and I aren’t talking right now, success has driven us apart.
- So would you direct?
Robert Downey Jr: Do you want me to? It sounds exhausting.
- Gwyneth you are a mother of two so have they seen the movie? And what did they think of your performance?
Gwyneth Paltrow: Yes we all saw it last night together with all of my kid’s friends and everyone loved it, including myself.
Robert Downey Jr: You are such a snob.
Gwyneth Paltrow: I was surprised because on set I find it difficult to follow the plot on paper; who is getting shot with what and who is bad and who is good.
But the movie plays so well and it was so much fun to watch. I was really amazed by the job that Shane did and I thought it was really good and so did my family.
- Are there any characters that you would like to see come into the Iron Man franchise or future Avenges movies?
Drew Pearce: I have no idea what is coming next but we do know that Joss Whedon is doing Avengers 2. He is a wonderful arbiter of taste and he will dip into the can brilliantly I am sure.
Obviously this movie is a tribute to Warren Ellis and Matt Fraction and other brilliant modern day writers of the comics, it feels appropriate to give a shout out to, but who knows what will come next. Or if there is a next… Robert?
- I was wondering where the Downton Abbey reference in the movie came from?
Robert Downey Jr: I think it was Jon Favreau’s idea. I think a. he does like it but b. he thought ‘what would be the strangest thing that Happy could be obsessed watching?’
- Gwyneth how familiar were you with the character of Pepper Potts in the comic before you started these movies? How much of an appeal was it that she as such a strong female character?
Gwyneth Paltrow: I had never even heard of Iron Man until Jon Favreau called me as I had not grown up reading comics at all. But when the first Iron Man came about I had taken a few years off and I was home having kids and stuff.
But there as no script and I was really flying blind because I didn’t know anything about the comics of the movie that we were going to do. Robert and Jon talked me into doing it.
It has been a great journey playing Pepper as in every movie she really does get to have an evolution and Iron Man 3 is definitely most her fun and interesting of all the roles so far.
I would never have thought of myself being in a comic book/superhero movie and now I am so happy that it has been my main job for the last six years as I have had the best time.
- Robert how would you sum up your Iron Man 3 experience?
Robert Downey JR: We are doing something right and I really am glad the people are responding to this movie. Being able to do this again with Don and Gwyneth has been a real pleasure.
But having Sir Ben rocket us into another dimension with arguably the most complicated arc in superhero history and the over talented Rebecca Hall turning up and classing the joint has just made this the most delightful experience.
And Drew and Shane listening all run our mouths off for weeks and weeks and weeks and then they said ’thank you very much’ and went away and then came back with a script which is the story we shot. That is the reason that we are sitting here and that is why most of you are not saying that this movie sucks.
Iron Man 3 is released 25th April