Robert Downey (Jr)

  1. Ralph Macchio, The Karate Kid, 1983.    The surprise hit had been aimed at Nicolas Cage, Jim Carrey, Tom Cruise, Jon Cryer, Robert Downey Jr, Kyle Eastwood, Anthony Edwards, Crispin Glover, Sean PennEric Stoltz, brothers Emilio Esteves and Charlie Sheen and the Initialers  Michael J Fox, C Thomas Howell,  D B Sweeney. At 22, looking 16, Macchio made  Daniel LaRusso (ex-Weber) his own in four  films and two video-games… and named his son Daniel.  The Character is claimed by many but was based on the early life of scenarist Robert Mark Kamen. It’s a great coming-of-age story,” said Macchio.  And 40 years later, and people still stop him in the street  to quote  dialogue at him.
  2. Rob Lowe, St Elmo’s Fire, 1984.         Directors John Hughes and Joel Schumacher were rather like Lucas and Spielberg in the 70s:  dipping into the same age talent pool.   The Brat Packers Hughes kept in the high school Breakfast Club, Schumacher made, as here, college kids.  When Hughes said “Why can’t I make movies like The Lost Boys, Joel?”  Schumacher would reply:  “Why can’t I make Pretty in Pink?” The answer was different school experiences. Joel’s was “drinking at nine, smoking at 10, sexually active at 11….”
  3. Tom Cruise, Top Gun, 1985.      Among those passing on cocky USNavy jet pilot Lieutenant Pete “Maverick” Mitchell  were: Kevin Bacon, Scott Baio,  Jim Carrey, John Cusack, Robert Downey Jr, Michael J Fox, Rob Lowe, Matthew Modine (took exception to the script’s Cold War politics),  Patrick Swayze, Eric Stolz John Travolta (too pricey)  and brothers Charlie Sheen and Emilio Estevez.  Too young, at 20, Sheen sent the whole movie up in Hot Shots! 1990. Maverick became one of Cruise’s signature acts – still  took 34 years for a sequel!
  4. Jon Cryer, Pretty In Pink, 1985.       John Hughes’ regular leading man – teen! – passed on being Duckie as the film seemed little more than a reworking of his first Hughes experience, Sixteen Candles, 1983. Junior Downey was also auditioned.
  5. Matthew Broderick, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,1986.      Considered for Ferris. As were: Jim Carrey, Tom Cruise, John Cusack, Johnny Depp, Michael J Fox, Eric Stolz.
  6. Michael Keaton, Batman, 1988.   
  7. John Cusack, Say Anything…, 1989.      Robert Downey Jr refused to be the quirky Lloyd Dobler.  Richard Dreyfuss wrote to debuting auteur Cameron Crowe after reading his script: “Great script, want to play Lloyd.”  Instead, Crowe auditioned  Kirk Cameron, Loren Dean (switched to Joe), Christian Slater – and two future directors Peter Berg and Todd Field –  before settling (rightly) on Cusack. Chicago critic Roger Ebert helped save the film from flopping by hailing it as one of the best of 1989.  “A film that is really about something, that cares deeply about the issues it contains [honesty, etc] – and yet it also works wonderfully as a funny, warmhearted romantic comedy.”
  8. William Baldwin, Backdraft, 1990.      Tested for firefighter Brian McCaffrey. So did Dermot Mulroney, Brad Pitt and Keanu Reeves. But director Ron Howard felt Baldwin looked more like Kurt Russell’s brother  Downey’s test was among 54 such tapes banned from auction in Beverly Hills by the actors’ union in April 2013.   “Auditions are not public performances,” said t SAG-AFTRA. “Performers are entitled to expect them to remain private.” And yet they had been seen…when Paramount’s Real TV tabloid show starting running such audition tapes…in 1995!
  9. James Spader, Bad Influence, 1990.        Due for the victim of a murderous Nicolas Cage
  10. Johnny Depp, Edward Scissorhands, 1990.         Good thinking! Instead, this magical role of just 169 words proved the naissance of a great collaboration: Depp and Tim Burton: six movies by 2007.

  11. John Cusack, The Grifters, 1990.         “In truth, “ said director Stephen Frears, “it was between him and Robert Downey… and I just had a feeling for John… just a very good actor.. He was good by about 5pm, so I shot all his scenes around then. Mornings, he was hopeless. He was really relieved I hadn’t seen any of what he called his teen films. John’s dad once told me it was a relief for their family because John had left for Hollywood aged 16 and had got to behave like a teenager in films instead of being moody all around the house.”
  12. Brad Pitt, Thelma and Louise, 1990. 
  13. William Baldwin, Three of Hearts,1992.        Tough choices!  Instead of a male hustler hired by a lesbian to make her lover jealous, he chose his father’s Too Much Sun – about a millionaire’s gay son and lesbian daughter trying to earn their inheritance by producing an heir. Ah!
  14. Charlie Sheen, The Three Musketeers, 1993.      Chased by Tri-Star to be Aramis in an unsuccessful bid to stop the Disney version… which also chased him. 
  15. Steven Weber, Jeffrey, 1995.           Most actors refused writer Paul Rudnik’s comic lead ofa gay turning celibate to avoid AIDS.
  16. John Leguizamo, To Wong Fu, Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar,1995.      He joined the legions testing in drag for the Steven Spielberg production.
  17. Robert Sean Leonard, Killer: A Journal of Murder, 1995.   Two other  youngstars, Broderick and Robert Downey Jr, were also seen for Henry Lesser, the out-of-his-depth prison guard at the Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary, trying to aid and understand (who could?) the serial killer Carl Panzram – confessing to 21 murders and a thousand sodomy attacks.  He was hanged in 1930.
  18. Wesley Snipes, One Night Stand, 1996.   According to journalist Ben Falk’s Downey bio, the almost down and out actor had a date with UK director Mike Figgis at a Beverly Hills restaurant. Downey was two hours late, barefoot, high and with a gun  clwarly visible  in the purse he was carrying. A shocked Figgis perservered… Downey, despite his addiction’s  greaty weigfht loss, expected the lead, Max Carlyle.  Figgis, however, wanted his shrunken frame for the AIDS victim, Charlie,. Now Downey was shocked. But after checking a mirror (plus a line of coke), he accepted the offer.
  19. Matt Dillon, Wild Things, 1997.      Actor-producer Kevin Bacon was willing but his backers expected Downey (straight out of rehab) to pay the seven-figure insurance premium on his head.    Ciao baby!
  20. Paul Rudd, The Object of My Affection, 1997.      Brooklyn social-worker Nina Borowski is pregnant, falling for a gay guy and wanting to raise her child with him.  Nothing is that simple…  Casting went through two other couples: Sarah Jessica Parker-Robert Downey Jr and Uma Thurman-Keanu-Reeves (someone loved Stephen Frears’ Dangerous Liaisons), before settling upon Jennifer Aniston-Pau; Rudd.  Winona Ryder, Kyra Sedgwick and Debra Winger were also in the Nina mix. But just not as as famous as Friends.  Chicago’s ace critic Roger Ebert called it a seriocom – “the worst kind of sitcom – a serious one.”

  21. Robert Carlyle,Angela’s Ashes, 1999.      Downey’s agent, Ed Limato, sent it over to the jail where Bob was held on drug related charges….  Oh, Hollywood!
  22. Josh Brolin, The Hollow Man, 2000.       Rather than the title role which the suits would have begged him to play 12 years later, Downey had little  hesitation is passing on the new lover of the invisible Kevin Bacon’s ex, Elisabeth Shue.  Critic Roger Ebert said the mess deserved a niche in the Underachievement Hall of Fame.  Downey added:  “I tend to smell the end result of faulty process pretty acutely.”
  23. Jamie Foxx, Held Up, 1999, The tepid – so slow! – comedy was Inconvenienced for  Rob Schneider, Lisa Kudrow and Janeane Garofalo  in 1995  until Rob simply quit four days before the start.  He’d finally read it, perhaps!).  Robert Downey passed and the project imploded – only to be revived for Foxx and Nia Long. But as the Austin Chronicle put it: “nowhere near clever enough to be a satire and not broad enough to be a farce.”
  24. James Garner, God, The Devil and Bob, TV, 2000.    Jail-time (re drugs) pfrevented Downey voicing Satan in the TV toon which offended US religions. Apparently  did not  think that God might have a sense of humour.  (Surely the human  body shows that).  No such ruckus in the UK where all 13 episodes were aired, compared to three Stateside. James Garner’s  God looked the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia. And French Stewart was Bob in the centre of a between between God and Satan.
  25. Hank Azaria, America’s Sweethearts, 2001.     Fresh out of jail and back into stardom in Ally McBeal, Downey was to be Catherine Zeta-Jones’ “Latin” lover when he was arrested yet again… Such baggage was too heavy for what appeared an uncredited re-hash of the UK’s Simon and Laura, 1955 – as publicist Billy Crystal fools the media into believing that the star couple (John Cusack and Zeta-Jones) are in love when they despise one another. Ace critc Roger Ebert saw it as a new spin on Singin’ in the Rain, even listing who plays who’s 1951 rôle. Such as Julia Roberts and Billy Crystal as Debbie Reynolds and Donald O’Connor. Oh really? Only Azaria was new to the plot – and a bigger Hollywood cliché than the rest of ’em being sent up.
  26. Johnny Knoxville, Men in Black II, 2001.    Not yet Iron Man (or Sherlock Holmes), Downey (and Keanu Reeves) auditioned for Scrad/Charlie, a two-headed alien working for Serleena, the shapeshifting Kylothian who has taken the form of a lingerie model (played Lara Flynn Boyle). “Although that is not as amusing as you might hope,” commented Chicago critic Roger Ebert. Would have been with Downey!
  27. Justin Kirk, Angels In America, TV, 2003.      Director Robert Altman chose Downey (and indeed Al Pacino, who remained as Roy Cohn) before Tony Kushner’s brilliant two-part play went through various directors until ending as an HBO TV mini-series from Mike Nichols.
  28. Will Ferrell, Melinda & Melinda, 2004.    It’s Autumn 2003 and, naturally, Woody Allen is embarking on his annual movie. Except he cannot get insurance cover for his stars, Downey and Winona Ryder.  (Because of his drugs history and her recent shoplifting charges). And they had been perfect, said Woody.  (Yeah, like cheap).  Ferrell and Australian Radha Mitchell replaced them.  Cheaper. Downey pals called Woody a cheap showman. “He knew exactly how much it would cost to insure Robert for this film,” went their argument. “Robert turned down other jobs for this film… even went to the insurance physical – and passed. He did everything. And then, all of a sudden, Woody comes out publicly and says he’s too expensive to insure.  Bullshit!”
  29. Sam Rockwell, The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, 2005.
  30. David Morrissey, Basic Instinct 2, 2005.    Apparently discussed the role ofthe shrink Dr Glasswith Sharon Stone’s manager during a game of tennis – the week before he was busted for drugs.  He was thoroughly rehabbed by the time they got around to making a right dog’s breakfast of it in London.   As in: What can she do for an encore? “I let myself down,” said Morrissey. “When it came out… I didn’t want to leave the house.It was a very bruising experience.”

  31. Matthew Lillard, What Love Is, 2007.      Encore!  Or that was the plan after thefine double act of Val Kilmer and Robert in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, 2005.
  32. Mark Ruffalo, Shutter Island, 2009.      Far too busy – Iron Man2 and Sherlock Holme– when director icon Martin Scorsese and his (fourth time) star, Leonardo Di Caprio offered rhe role of Leo’s cop partner, Chuck Aule.   “I feel like I was the opening band at Woodstock,” Downey said of all  the  Marvel superheroes that followed Iron Man .  Except he as more triumphant,  making  $75m from Iron Man 3.
  33. Will Ferrell, Megamind, 2009.      Downey and Ben Stiller were approached for Megamind, a kinda Lex Luthor, versus a kinda Superman (Brad Pitt as Metroman).  They were busy.  Unfortunately, Ferrell was not.
  34. Daniel Craig, Cowboys and Aliens, 2010.   The great title (better than the movie) had been stuck in Development Hell since 1997 which explains why such as  Brendan Fraser, Chuck Norris and Mr T (!) were invited to saddle up as the outlaw hero Jake Lonergan. So were, Jackie Chan, Bill Paxton,  Kurt Russell and Bruce Willis.   For the lack of Downey, blame Guy Ritchie… The Iron Man series star and director (Jon Favreau) were due to ignite the 2006 graphic novel…. until Downey swept his schedule clear for any a sequel to his and Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes, 2009. According to scenarist-producer Alex Kurtzman, Downey’s Cowboys was to have been a much sillier movie.
  35. Jim Cummings, Gnomeo and Juliet,2010.  Downey and Jeff Bridges were early notionsfor  Featherstone, a plastic flamingo with a Spanish accent – in this red vblue  garden gnomes’ take on Shakespeare with, of course, producer Elton John’s songbook – Benny and the Jets, Rocketman, Your Song, et al.Final choice, naturally, was the Disney vocal veteran  voice of  ‘em all. For example – take a deep breath –  Bonkers B Bobcat, Geppetto, King James, King Triton, Rasputin, Santa Claus, Scar, Long John Silver, Tigger, Winnie the Pooh, Yosemite Sam.  Etc.Bard jokes included houses numbered 2B and Not 2B and  the Rosencrantz & Guildenstern moving company.

  36. George Clooney, Gravity, 2011. 
    Mexican auteur Alfonso Cuaron talked “with a bunch of people. Probably one of the most serious ones was with Robert… [But] it was clear that the technology and Robert are incompatible. Part of the magic of Robert is that he changes everything all the time. You cannot take Robert Downey and say, ‘This is your frame of work, and you have 25 seconds to deliver your line and while you’re doing it, you have to be pushing that button to the left.’ We both understood it.” Despite the 2002 flop of his Solaris, Clooney eagerly returned to science fiction in the 3D special written by Cuaron and his son, Jonas. The film had already been delayed for a year to allow Sandra Bullock to complete Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close with Tom Hanks “A satellite blows up, and space junk causes damage,” explained Clooney. “We go out in space suits, and (Sandra) and I are tethered together, floating through space. It’s a two-hander… only two actors in the whole film.  It’s a very odd film, really.  Two people in space.  No monsters.  More like 2001 than an action film.”

  37. James Franco, Oz the Great and Powerful, 2012.   Disneyland is no Oz. Yet having lost a bundle on the depressing Return To Oz, 1984, the Mouse House primed the pump anew for this dangerously titled tale of how a Kansas con-man magician became The Wiz. A stranger in a stranger land, the ineffectual Franco is basically playing Dorothy, which is, perhaps, why Johnny Depp and Robert Downey Jr were not.
  38. Ty Burrel, Mr Peabody & Sherman, 2012.  Downey’s name was run  up the DreamWorks flagpole for voicing Mr. Peabody. Who. Is. A. Dog.  (Not even an Iron Dog). But, yes, the most amazing dog in history:  inventor, scientist, Noble laureate, gourmet chef, business tycoon, double Olympic gold medalist. With its own time machine. Plus an adopted human son! The Modern Family TV star barked instead.
  39. John Goodman, The Hangover Part III, 20012.    The Wolf Pack (Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis) is back and Downey – and  Sean Penn  – topped their list for  the gangster on their  joint asses in this dark and dank franchise finale… Until they come back as senior citizens in 20 years. (You wanna bet?) Galifianakis made Due Date with Downey, 2009, and The Campaign, with Goodman in 2011.
  40. Joaquin Phoenix, Inherent Vice, 2013.     No, no, said Downey, nothing to do with schedules – the director, Paul Thomas Anderson, thought him  too old!  Plus he dearly wanted to work with Phoenix again after The Master,  2012.  

  41. Chris  Pratt, The Lego Movie, 2013.  Would have made one hell of  CV.   Iron Man, Sherlock Holmes, Chaplin  and… Lego’s  Emmet Brickowoski!
  42. Spencer Rocco LoFranco, The Life and Death of John Gotti, 2016.   According to New York Post, Dominic Cooper (the UK Mama Miastar) was all set to play John Gotti Jr – after Johnny Depp, Robert Downey Jr, James Franco, Shia LaBoeuf, Jeremy Renner and Channing Tatum withdrew from what was then Gotti: In The Shadow Of My Father. Canada’s LoFranco was perfect for Travolta… unknown, far from A Lists or not known for stealing movies. While Juniors, writers, directors and years sped by, John Travolta remained literally The Teflon Don as Gotti Sr, was known when the untouchable head of New York’s Gambino Mafia family. When the film finally opened in June, 2018, Gotti was rapidly  sleeping with the fishes, roasted by critics and was hit – as in mob  hit – by the public, scoring a mere $1.6m opening weekend. Not the first but the biggest disaster of Travolta’s career.
  43. Adam Driver, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, 2017.












 Birth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  43