Downey plays risky ‘Detective’

Thesp fetes, mocks Gibson

HOLLYWOOD — Described by its helmer Keith Gordon as “a comedy-drama surrealist lip-synced 1950s musical,” aud was treated Tuesday night to a preview of the “The Singing Detective,” a bigscreen adaptation of renowned Brit playwright Denis Potter’s celebrated miniseries.

Gordon and leading man Robert Downey Jr. were at the Egyptian Theater to present the second film in the Variety Screening Series.

Downey said pic presented him with a risky role, especially considering half the film had him performing under painful heavy makeup that rendered his entire body — facial expressions included — immobile. “There’s always something ugly, uncomfortable and restrictive you can relate it to. For me it would be like doing these Q&As.”

Pic’s producer Mel Gibson also took a prominent though almost unrecognizable role in the film, and Downey wasn’t afraid to poke a bit of fun at his screenmate: “Four days for 32 pages of script is pretty tough. But on the fifth day, he’s taking off in a chopper. He’s got stuff to do. He’s Mel.”

Gordon explained it was actually Gibson’s idea to wear prosthetics for his part as the elderly, doddering Dr. Gibbon — “Mel looks great bald,” Downey opined.

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