Robert Downey Jr. Reflects on Life After Iron Man: "I Am Not My Work"

Robert Downey Jr Avengers Endgame Asia Press Conference - Getty - H 2019
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The actor is opening up about leaving the security of having "sure things" with Marvel Studios: "It's the closest I will ever come to being a trust-fund kid."

Robert Downey Jr. completed the role of a lifetime with Avengers: Endgame, in which he said goodbye to Tony Stark, the character he'd played since 2008's Iron Man and who brought him levels of success that seemed unimaginable when he took on the role.

Downey has kept a relatively low public profile in the months since the film's release, but now is reflecting on the next stage of his life in a new interview with Off Camera With Sam Jones.

"I have not been forced to explore the new frontier of what is my creative and personal life after this," Downey said. "It's always good to get ahead of where you are about to be. If you put eyes on 'that's going to be a big turn down there, spring of '19,' I better start psychically getting on top of that. … It's always in the transitions between one phase and the next phase that people fall apart."

Coming up in January, Downey has The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle, a potential franchise starter that underwent extensive reshoots earlier this year. He also as Sherlock Holmes 3 due out in December 2021.

Thanks to backend profit participation, Downey turned heads by earning $50 million for 2012's Avengers, and he made as much as $75 million for Infinity War. Though Downey did not discuss his paydays in his interview with Sam Jones, the actor noted he is now in uncharted waters following the success of the MCU.

"There's always a dependency on something that feels like a sure thing. It's the closest I will ever come to being a trust-fund kid," Downey said of his time with Disney's Marvel Studios.

At times during his Marvel run, it might have appeared to outsiders that Downey's public persona and Tony Stark were merging.

"Initially, by creating and associating and synergizing with Tony Stark and the Marvel Universe … and being a good company man, but also being a little off-kilter, being creative and getting into all these other partnerships, it was a time when … what do they say? Owners start looking like their pets," said Downey.

In order to maintain his own identity, he drew upon his theatrical training, which taught him the notion of "aesthetic distance" from the characters you play.

"I am not my work. I am not what I did with that studio. I am not that period of time that I spent playing this character," said Downey. "And it sucks, because the kid in all of us wants to be like, 'No. It's always going to be summer camp and we're all holding hands and singing 'Kumbaya.'"

In the original Iron Man, Tony Stark built a suit out of scraps in a cave, creating something that he hoped would get him far enough for the cavalry to come in and save him. It was an act of self-preservation, noted Downey. In Endgame, Tony wielded an Infinity Gauntlet he built at great personal cost — completing Tony's journey.

"The last [Iron Man suit] is not designed to be able to do its job and have you make it past this. That's the great Joseph Campbell mythology of it," said Downey.

You can watch more from Downey below.