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Cole Haddon

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Interview: Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, and Gwyneth Paltrow Talk Iron Man 2

Given that Iron Man 2 hits theaters on Friday, I brought you the first part of my interview with star Robert Downey Jr. and director Jon Favreau on Monday. Today you get part two, but this time around co-stars Gwyneth Paltrow (who returns as Tony Stark/Iron Man’s trusted confidante and love interest) and Scarlett Johansson (playing the mysterious Natalie Rushman) join the mix. A dizzying array of talent, to be sure.

**Warning: Slight spoilers ahead!**

Cole Haddon: Robert, you’ve played some pretty big heroes in the past couple of years: Iron Man, Sherlock Holmes. What do you think a hero is?

Robert Downey Jr.: I think a hero is someone who, if they’re abroad or traveling, they go to the Goop website to find out what restaurants to go to, what clothing shops they might enjoy, what sites they should see. And they do that, not fearlessly, but they do that in spite of their fear.

[In case you've never heard of it, goop.com is Paltrow's lifestyle website. In this reference, Downey Jr. is mostly serious about his reply (I think), while, with a wink, including a shout-out to a friend's passion project.]

CH: Speaking of Goop, will you be talking about Iron Man 2 on it anytime soon?

Gwyneth Paltrow: Actually, not this coming week, but next week the Goop Newsletter will be about my Iron Man 2 training regimen, and how I lost weight and got in shape to play this part. So you can check it out.

CH: There’s a real Moonlighting vibe going on between Tony Stark and Pepper Potts in the movie. The banter between you two is especially great. How was it finally shooting a kiss scene?

RDJ: I couldn’t get her off of me. It was embarrassing.

GP: [Laughs] It was great because both my husband [Chris Martin] and his wife [Susan Downey] were right there.

RDJ: She said to me that I didn’t know what I was doing. Like it didn’t feel good. And I’m like, “You know what? First of all, we’re all friends, so what would be creepy is if I was coming off all sexy to you while we’re [doing this].” By the way, I’ve done that in movies and it creeps them out. [To Paltrow]: So why am I going to creep you out? [About Paltrow]: Despite what she said on set, she still thinks about it.

CH: Gwyneth, Scarlett. Tony Stark is surprised to find out how well you two work together later in the movie, which got me thinking. Who do you think could work better to save the world: two chest-thumping men like Tony and his friend James Rhodes/War Machine (Don Cheadle), or two gals like Pepper and Natalie Rushman/Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow?

GP: Well, if Scarlett and I were doing it, the body count would be different, less bloody.

Scarlett Johansson: And more organized. We’d just stack them. I think with the brains and muscles on one side, and the beauty and the blonde on the other, I feel like maybe we have a great chance.

GP: We’re unstoppable.

SJ: We are, it’s true. Unstoppable. I feel like I could wield the guns and the karate chop movements and you can –

GP: Outthink people?

SJ: Be the brains behind the operation, sure. That’s your superpower.

CH: Gwyneth, Scarlett, could you talk about your characters as strong, intelligent women? They’re a lot more than just sex symbols in the pic.

SJ: Of course they’re sexy characters. When you have a sexy secretary, or a girl, you know, swinging around by her ankles in a cat suit, you know that’s innately sexy, but the fact is that these characters are intelligent. They’re ambitious. They’re motivated and calculated to some degree. [If I was] just a pawn in a story of a whole bunch of men kind of fighting it out and rolling around and getting down and dirty, there you are to sort of be like the vision in the tight cat suit, [that would be] sort of a boring thing to me. And I think that Jon really made that very clear in the beginning, that he felt that as far as Black Widow was concerned, or that Natalie was concerned, she was mysterious and nuanced and something to kind of peel back the layers to. That there was something there. I have never really been a fan of this genre, really, and I think because it is really one-note and kind of explosive; I think because Gwyneth and I can sort of be the brains behind the operation in some aspect [presents a] kind of happy medium. I think it adds to the charm and the charisma of the film and the finished product.

GP: I agree with Scarlett. I think that it’s a very smart decision actually to have women that are capable and intelligent, because it appeals to women. You know, so it’s not only a film for 15-year-old boys. It’s a film that can relate to a lot of people on a lot of levels.

SJ: It’s awfully kind of old-fashioned actually, in the best sense of the word. These characters are sort of like these fabulous femme fatales of the golden age of Hollywood that Bette Davis [would play] more than Jayne Mansfield. I think [that] is so much more dynamic to watch.

CH: Speaking of women, your wife, Susan, is a producer on Iron Man 2. She was on Sherlock Holmes, too. What did she bring to the team this time around?

RDJ: On a certain level, they might have thought that she was going to come in and tame me or put me in check or whatever, but I was completely out of my mind.

Jon Favreau: It’s not like she came on board and became a producer just because we’re making Iron Man. Quite the contrary. We were funneling towards a start date, and we had a lot of ideas spread out, and we had bulletin boards, and Justin was there, and Robert was there … with index cards trying to figure out how to make the [story] flow through. And she has tremendous organization ability, and she understands Robert’s creative process, and she understands the first movie and lived through it with us. And so Susan, who has a very strong background in development and physical production, was able to come in and just help. It’s like one of those shows where they just organize all of your closets for you and make you throw out all of the clothes that you don’t need anymore. But it takes somebody who says, “You’re never going to wear that again. You’re never going to fit in that.” And they throw it away.

CH: There’s a snippet in the trailer where Pepper is on a plane with Tony and she kisses his helmet before tossing it out an open door, but it didn’t make it into the final cut.

JF: Yes. That was, we had different versions of things that we tried, that was something that was a great image and we love and a scene that is going to be in the DVD. But we had two different versions of it, and because of the pacing and the way that we reveal Tony Stark, it felt really good to flow into the drop down and reveal him for the first time on stage. For those of you who haven’t seen the movie this doesn’t make any sense, but often times in the editing room we figure out what combinations of scenes –

[There's a small conversational commotion going on beside him between Downey Jr. and Paltrow that distracts Favreau.]

RDJ: Gwyneth is just finding out that scene was cut, Jon. You might be a little more sensitive.

[Everybody laughs.]

CH: Final question for you, Jon, since you brought up the DVD/Blu-Ray. The first Iron Man DVD was packed with extras. Just amazing amounts of making-of featurettes. What can we expect this time around?

JF: Well, we have, there are a lot of featurettes. We were running cameras behind the scenes all the time. We don’t really like to show too much of it before the movie comes out to keep some surprises, but everything was very well documented. And as you can see, we have a very interesting group of people. And so, between the interviews, you get a really good sense, we’re fans of these movies. There are going to be pretty extensive featurettes, and then commentary this time around, and also deleted scenes that we thought would be interesting for people to see. So it’s more a movie fan set of extras, for people who really want to immerse themselves.


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Tags: Interviews, Iron man 2, Scarlett johansson

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