By Karen Butler
"Iron Man" and "Sherlock Holmes" star Robert Downey Jr. insists he's not looking to headline another film series. But he admitted that if he was, he would consider making sequels to his new flick "Due Date" because it was such a blast to shoot.
In the big-screen comedy, the Irish-American actor plays Peter, a man who unfortunately finds himself on a no-fly list when he needs to get home to his very pregnant wife. With few options at hand, Peter embarks on a cross-country road trip with Ethan, a quirky stranger whose dad recently died. Helmed by "Old School" and "The Hangover" director Todd Phillips, the movie co-stars Zach Galifianakis, Michelle Monaghan, Jamie Foxx and Danny McBride.
Asked at a recent Los Angeles press conference if he would consider appearing in a sequel to "Due Date," Downey replied, "That's what I need: three franchises, so I can have a total personality meltdown and no real life.
"But I would do it with these guys," the 45-year-old actor added, getting a little more serious. "I have to say there was something so cathartic . . . It was the most healing project I've ever worked on and I've never come up against anyone who is so confident and thoughtful and spontaneous that it's not even daunting - [Zach] is just in a class by himself. And I think Todd is the best director I ever worked with, bar none."
Downey, whose resume includes "Weird Science," "Less Than Zero," "Chaplin," "Iron Man" and "Tropic Thunder," said he and Phillips had a great collaborative relationship on the set of "Due Date," a movie the cast and crew has likened to films as diverse as "Rain Man," "Midnight Run" and "Planes, Trains and Automobiles."
"I think that every time I feel like I've really hit critical mass and I'm in the right place is when the director and I become a third thing and that's the character, " Downey explained. "I always feel like I'm playing an aspect of the director, particularly when he is an auteur, and, to me, it's a way of almost making him a proud parent."
"Robert really has a producer's brain; he's basically another writer in the room. Zach is really like an empty vessel and he sits and waits," Phillips joked. "Robert and I had lots of spirited discussions . . . [He] has an aversion to things that are typed, I learned. So even if we just re-wrote the actual scene on a napkin, even if it was the same scene, he felt better about it."
For Phillips, having Downey involved in the film was like having another producer - in a good way.
"He was constantly challenging what we were doing every day. Robert thinks of the movie as a whole . . . that's what I mean by a producer's approach to it. And, for me, it was an unequaled experience."
So, did Downey enjoy playing a character who isn't always likable?
"It was an invitation to me to get in touch with everything that annoys me about everyone and all the fear[s] I have . . . that everybody can relate to," he confessed. "So I felt like I was a conduit into this. It wasn't very pleasant and I don't know why. I'm not a Method guy. I can't be bothered to have a method. We had such a great group of people in the whole thing. You can say this is a two-dimensional commercial comedy. I feel this is the second greatest story ever told."
The first being?
"The Bible!" he deadpanned.
In addition to having a character and script that appealed to him, "Due Date" also offered Downey the opportunity to reunite with some old friends -- Foxx, his co-star in "The Soloist;" McBride, his fellow cast member in "Tropic Thunder" and Monaghan, his love interest in "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang."
"I was very, very excited and jumped at the opportunity to work with Robert again," Monaghan recalled. "I adore Robert and had such an amazing experience on 'Kiss Kiss Bang Bang,' so this was really exciting and, obviously, I'm a huge fan of Todd's. And Zach's alright. So I was excited. ... I get to see Robert occasionally and it's a nice mug to see."
"Due Date" is in theaters nationwide.