There are some celebrities whose names just immediately come to mind when you think of the word “awesome”. Neil Patrick Harris, for example, or Jennifer Lawrence. But in recent years, no name has come up alongside that word more often than Robert Downey, Jr., whose personality onscreen and off has lead him to be one of the most well-loved actors in Hollywood. He’s taking a break from franchise films this weekend and starring inThe Judge, where he plays a lawyer who must put his differences with his father (Robert Duvall) aside to defend in him in court after returning home for his mother’s funeral. The film is garnering decent reviews (You can check out Gloria’s review here), which a lot of people have been glad to hear, but what are the other essentials in RDJ’s career?
Honourable mentions: I haven’t seen these flicks myself, but fans would likely want mentions for films like The Soloist, Natural Born Killers, Weird Science, Bowfinger, Good Night, and Good Luck and A Scanner Darkly, all of which I’ve taken on good word to be pretty great. But let’s skip out on The Shaggy Dog, yeah?
It’s a daunting task to play an icon, but RDJ pulls it off in the late Richard Attenborough’s 1992 biopic Chaplin. The film, as you can guess from the title, follows the story of master of comedy Charlie Chaplin, from his formative years in England to his highest successes in America, taking a look over his life, works and loves. Though his onscreen characters were hilarious, the man behind “The Little Tramp” was constantly haunted by a sense of loss. Many critics were not fond of the dramatisation of Chaplin’s life in places, but it was almost unanimously agreed that RDJ gave a phenomenal performance. He truly brought to life the Sad Clown image, and earned his first Oscar nomination.
Now, there are several people out there who weren’t fond of this film, but RDJ went all out in comedy Tropic Thunder. Ben Stiller, Jack Black and RDJ play three actors cast in a war film who, after a series of freak occurrences, are forced to become the soldiers they are portraying. The film is perhaps best known for Tom Cruise’s supporting role as Len Goodman (who, to be fair, is absolutely hilarious), but it’s all about RDJ playing an Australian actor playing an African American. He is unrecognisable, but hugely hilarious, and it’s slightly hard to believe that this, of all films, was the one that earned him his second Oscar nomination. (Though being up against Heath Ledger for The Dark Knight, there wasn’t much hope).
This must be the 3rd or 4th time this has come up in our Essentials so we’ll keep it brief, but Zodiac is hands down one of the best films of the past ten years. Based on a true story, Jake Gyllenhaal stars as a comic strip writer who becomes obsessed with the murders committed by the mysterious Zodiac killer and turns amateur detective. What’s remarkable about this film is how RDJ, very famous for his scene-stealing abilities, plays a supporting role and stays a supporting role, never once stealing the limelight from Gyllenhaal and still managing to be brilliant. As great as he is, it’s nice for him to not be the centre of attention for once, and the film itself is definitely one of the best from directorDavid Fincher.
As far as modern adaptations go of Arthur Conan Doyle’s sleuth, you’re probably better acquainted with the BBC’s TV show Sherlock, starring Benedict Cumberbatch in the title role with Martin Freeman as sidekick Watson. However, it’s still worth taking a look at Guy Ritchie’s 2009 film starring RDJ as the detective, with Jude Law as Watson. Great performances all round from the cast, especially Mark Strong as villain Blackwood, and the style of the film is great, especially the scenes in which Sherlock plans out his next move in slow motion, they are deliriously engaging to watch. The 2011 sequel, A Game of Shadows, isn’t quite as good as this first one, but still worth checking out, especially to see the wonderfulJared Harris as Moriarty.
So this is technically four films in one here (five if you want to count his cameo in The Incredible Hulk) but let’s be honest, you knew it was coming. I mentioned that RDJ has been popular in recent years and this would be why. He first came onto our screens playing genius/billionaire/playboy/philanthropist Tony Stark, better known as the hero Iron Man, in 2008, and since then has starred in two sequels as well as the incredibly awesome teamup movie The Avengers. It’s one thing to embody a character and give an unforgettable performance, but RDJ has gone past that. He hasn’t just made the character his own, he’s made it completely unplayable for any other actor who may try it. Say what you will about Iron Man 2 and 3, he’s always on point and never once gives anything other than a great performance. His back and forths with the other Avengers make him a delight to watch in the 2012 film, especially the insults he throws as they all argue (Especially when he says to Cap “You’re a lab experiment, Rogers. Everything special about you came out of a bottle”... OOOOHHH BURN). Truthfully, this’ll forever be the role that RDJ is most famous for, and there’s nothing wrong with that, for playing the role of Tony Stark has solidified Robert Downey, Jr. place as the King of Cool.
What Do YOU Think?
Are you excited for The Judge?
Let us know in the comments!
The Judge is in cinemas now