As hard as it is to imagine anyone else but Robert Downey Jr playing Tony Stark, did you know Tom Cruise was being considered for the iconic role?
In the 2000s, Cruise was the more bankable star as Downey Jr was neck-deep in personal issues and Marvel didn’t want him as Tony Stark. The studio was instead keen on casting Cruise for the part, reported The Indian Express.
The actor had confirmed that there were talks about playing Iron Man. “It’s not happening. Not with me, no. They came to me at a certain point and, when I do something, I want to do it right. If I commit to something, it has to be done in a way that I know it’s going to be something special,” Cruise had said. “And as it was lining up, it just didn’t feel to me like it was going to work. I need to be able to make decisions and make the film as great as it can be and it just didn’t go down that road that way.”
The superstar added that Downey Jr was great for the role and he couldn’t imagine anyone else bringing the character to life either.
Downey Jr’s path to the role was far from easy, however. His past was bogged down with drugs and alcohol issues and Marvel was adamant to not hire him. Yet, director Jon Favreau fought for it.
In a Rolling Stone interview, Favreau said that Marvel had point-blank refused to hire Downey Jr saying, “Under no circumstances are we prepared to hire him for any price.” The director had called the actor and told him, “I fought, I tried, I did what I could, it’s a pity and a shame, but unfortunately, it’s going to stop here.” But Favreau persisted and Iron Man became the pillar of the billion-dollar franchise. Favreau had often said that Downey Jr could connect so effortlessly with Iron Man because their redemption arcs were eerily similar.
Interestingly, Cruise and Downey Jr have competed for a number of iconic roles. In fact, the latter was also considered for the role of Lt Pete “Maverick” Mitchell in Top Gun, before the role became an identifier for Cruise. He is expected to return with the film’s sequel later this year.
Recently, Downey Jr also revealed that Cruise was the first choice to play Charlie Chaplin in director Richard Attenborough’s Chaplin. The film went to him though and he also received his first Academy Award nomination for it.
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