×

The Russo Brothers Recall That Time Robert Downey Jr. Almost Wasn’t in ‘Civil War’

Robert Downey Jr., star of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, almost didn’t reprise his role as Iron Man in “Captain America: Civil War.”

Avengers: Endgame” co-directors Joe and Anthony Russo sat down with Variety’s Marc Malkin for the second episode of Variety and iHeartMedia’s new film podcast, “The Big Ticket.”

“We had to convince Robert Downey, who was not under contract to do ‘Civil War,’ to do that movie and to actually play a bad guy,” Joe Russo said.

So how do you get one of the world’s highest-paid actors to appear in a movie he didn’t sign up for?

“A lot of meetings in Malibu,” Anthony Russo said.

“You say, ‘Look, we’re going to try and do something really risky here. We want to deconstruct, we want to inject some edge and some tension into these stories.’ And he has to keep telling these stories, so he wants to play something compelling,” Joe said. “So when you say to him, ‘Hey, you get to be a villain and it’s going to make your next few movies a lot more interesting and give you more to play,’ it’s not that hard to sell.”

Even though it wasn’t an official “Avengers” movie, 2016’s “Captain America: Civil War” featured most of the superheroes divided over whether to register the team with the United Nations. Captain America and Iron Man led the two opposing sides against each other in a climactic battle that left the former teammates not on speaking terms when the dust cleared. The film helped set up “Avengers: Endgame,” which is believed to be the Russos’ final movie with Marvel.

“We’ve only taken it one at a time, honestly, except for ‘Infinity War.’ We don’t have any plans to do any more movies with Marvel. Now, we love Marvel — we couldn’t love them more. Our working experience on these films have been among the greatest in our careers. I wouldn’t be surprised if somewhere down the line we end up doing something when we find the right story. But right now, this is it,” Anthony said.

The Russos’ next film, “Cherry,” will reunite them with Tom Holland, better known as Spider-Man in the MCU. The young actor has undergone intense preparation to play an army veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and an addiction to opioids.

“This is a big shift for all of us, doing a treatise on the opioid epidemic. We’ve lost people very close to us to the epidemic, so it’s a very personal and passionate project for us,” Joe said. “I think it’s a very challenging role for him and he’s really working hard preparing for it, both mentally and physically.”

The Big Ticket” has more Avengers on deck. Tomorrow’s episode features Paul Rudd, Don Cheadle and Karen Gillan.

Starting on May 2, a new episode of “The Big Ticket” will be released every Thursday on iHeartRadio or wherever your favorite podcasts are found.

Listen to the new episode here:

More Film

  • Editorial use onlyMandatory Credit: Photo by

    Richard Williams, 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit' Animator, Dies at 86

    Renowned animator Richard Williams, best known for his work on “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” died Friday at his home in Bristol, England, Variety has confirmed. He was 86. Williams was a distinguished animator, director, producer, author and teacher whose work has garnered three Oscars and three BAFTA Awards. In addition to his groundbreaking work as [...]

  • Instinct

    Locarno Film Review: 'Instinct'

    Now that “Game of Thrones” has finally reached its conclusion, releasing its gifted international ensemble into the casting wilds, will Hollywood remember just what it has in Carice van Houten? It’s not that the statuesque Dutch thesp hasn’t been consistently employed since her startling 2006 breakout in Paul Verhoeven’s “Black Book,” or even that she’s [...]

  • Good Boys Movie

    Box Office: 'Good Boys' Eyes Best Original Comedy Opening of 2019

    Universal’s “Good Boys” is surpassing expectations as it heads toward an estimated $20.8 million opening weekend at the domestic box office following $8.3 million in Friday ticket sales. That’s well above earlier estimates which placed the film in the $12 million to $15 million range, marking the first R-rated comedy to open at No. 1 [...]

  • Pedro Costa’s 'Vitalina Varela' Wins at

    Pedro Costa’s 'Vitalina Varela' Triumphs at Locarno Film Festival

    The 72nd Locarno Film Festival drew to a close Saturday with Portuguese auteur Pedro Costa’s dark and detached film “Vitalina Varela” coming away with several awards together with superlatives from segments of the hardcore cinephile crowd, including jury president Catherine Breillat. In announcing the Golden Leopard prize for the film, as well as best actress [...]

  • Vitalina Varela

    Locarno Film Review: 'Vitalina Varela'

    Frequently beautiful compositions and the theatrical use of a fierce kind of artifice have long been the hallmarks of Portuguese auteur Pedro Costa, regarded by a small but influential group of aesthetes as one of the great filmmakers of our era. For those in tune with his vision, the director’s films offer an exciting lesson [...]

  • Notre dame

    Locarno Film Review: 'Notre dame'

    Not to be too cynical about it, but might the recent horrific fire in Paris’ cathedral attract audiences to a film in which the gothic gem plays a major role? It’s likely a wiser marketing strategy than promoting the unrelenting silliness of Valerie Donzelli’s oh-so-kooky comedy “Notre dame,” the writer-director-star’s return to contemporary Paris following [...]

  • Nordisk Film & TV Fond Announces

    Nordisk Film & TV Fond Backs Joachim Trier, Ole Bornedal, Yellow Bird

    Nordisk Film & TV Fond has announced three features, two series and a documentary set to receive $1.4m in financing, as well as distribution, dubbing and cultural initiative support recipients. Doing so, it highlights some of the key titles moving forward in the Nordic region. Already backed by the Danish Film Institute’s largest ever grant [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content