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July 28, 1993 - Image 10

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 1993-07-28

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10- The ichgun Daiy Summer Weekly- Wednesday, July 28, 1993
he ;ichigan ±1ail" ,
ARTS-IFW

Dashing Downey
The lauded actor talks family and security

By MEGAN ABBOTT
Things have changed for Robert
Downey Jr. Things have become seri-
ous. The actor once famed for his wild
lifestylehasbecomeRobert the Family
Man. Married now, with a baby due in
three weeks, Downey is settling in the
aftermath of a brisk and sweeping
change that was not a choice, he ex-
plains, but a "biological imperative."
Chuckling lightly, he adds, "It's a 1-
stepprogram.Ijuststartedgetting up."
Downey ("Chaplin," "Less Than
Zero") addresses these quite personal
issues in a suite at the Four Seasons
hotel in Chicago. A circle of anxious
reporters in chairs surround him as he
leans back on a very pink couch.
Dressed in chic-but-wrinkled casual
wear, with a baseball cap covering his
longish dark hair, Downey looks tired
whenhearrives.Abeardandmustache
sprouts along his face and, despite the
early hour, he lights up cigarette after
cigarette between loud coughing fits.
But, he assures us with a smile, he's
"donethisbefore,"soweneedn'tworry
about asurly attitude. The more expe-
rienced reporters breathe a collective
sigh of relief.
The purpose of this little interview
routine is to promote the new Univer-
salrelease,"HeartandSouls."Downey
stars with Alfre Woodard, Charles
Grodin, Kyra Sedgwick and Tom
Sizemoreinthisfeelgood comedyabout
the afterlife and lost souls. Directed by
Ron Underwood ("City Slickers"),
"Heart and Souls" seeks to tapinto the

same audience as "Sleepless in Se-
attle"-families, couples, fansofold-
style screwball comedy.
And Downey is no stranger to a
hybrid of light romance and physical
humor. Starring in films like
"Soapdish" and "Chances Are" pre-
pared him for the fast-paced laughs of
his new film. But Downey sees more
than slapstick in "Heart and Souls."
He waxes philosophical about the is-
sues involved in the movie. When
asked his views about death and im-
mortality, Downey says, "I know
there's more than this, butI think that
the way it probably works isn'tneces-
sarily how you'd like to make it (in) a
film ... you have to objectify it a little
bit to make it a little more palatable to
the psyche because ... dealing with
real truths like life and death and the
afterlife - it doesn't get any more
serious than that."
Things have become very serious
indeed for the famously-witty
Downey. In discussing this light-
hearted comedy, he consistently
chooses to pick out its more pithy
textures for discussion. Since "Heart
and Souls" follows four characters
who die in a bus accident in the 1950s
(while their souls live on in Downey's
character), Downey likes to find the
sociopolitical metaphor in the setup.
"My dad (famed independent film-
maker Robert Downey) said the '50s
were the last time it was great to be
American," Downey recalls. But he
finds there has been alingering disillu-

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sionmenteversince."Howmanypeople
inmy generation boughtintothatJames
Dean rebel energy and wound up in the
hospital or on the food line," Downey
wonders.
Downey'srminationsjumparound
a bit, from the weighty to the lightly
ironic. He jokes about his onscreen
mimicriesofGrodinandtheotherchar-
acters in "Heart and Souls," but then
deepensthesignificanceof those scenes
in confessing his fears about acting so
broadly. "Oneofmy friendssaidactors
make faces for cash and chicken,"
Downey relays. "And I was worried I
might be making faces for cash and
chicken." Looking around at the faces
of the reporters after this solemn, half-
whispered pronouncement, Downey
laughs and says, "Okay, now I'm just
gonna experimentwith simple andcon-
cise answers."
ButDowney'smindmovesfastand
to intriguing places. When he talks of
"Heart and Souls"-director Ron
Underwood, Downey gestures gently
with his hands and says, "I just look at
himandIcan imaginealittleMerlin-
youknow, rubbing on astoneandmix-
ing elixirs."
Downey's respect for directors is
quite clear. He is currently filming
"NaturalBornKillers,"thelatestOliver
Stonework(fromascreenplay by"Res-
ervoirDogs"auteurQuentin Tarantino)
and Stone's somewhat enigmatic per-
sonality permeates Downey's discus-
sion of the film. He imitates Stone's
murky style flawlessly and appears to
closely identify with the director's pre-
dilection towards obsessive involve-
ment in his work.
Indeed, with "Chaplin," a perfor-
iance which garnered Downey a

richly-deserved Oscar nomination,
Downey admits to falling perhaps too
far into his role. "I learned something
from 'Chaplin,' which is: Don't kill
yourself, please. Don't kill yourself
forapart. Don'tcallpeople upatthree
inthemorning asking themaboutfacts
"Ilearned
Ssomething from
'Chaplin, which is
Don't kllyourself,
lease. Do kill
yourself fora part
It doesn't help andit
just drives you -
and everyone else
around you -
crazy."
Robert Downey Jr.
from 1916because you're losing your
mind and are about to shoot an impor-
tant scene. It doesn't help and it just
drivesyou-andeveryoneelsearound
you - crazy."
After this admittal Downey con-
cedes that, "Nevertheless, if you don't
have the accent right then they're not
gonnaprintitandit'sgonnabe arough
day. It's a fine line." And it is a line

Downey chooses to take his chance
on, as hislatest work is certainly one of
hisriskiest.Stone's "NaturalBomKill-
ers" promises to be one of the most
violent and controversial films in re-
centmemory.Focusingonthecountry's
serialkilerfetish(andfeaturing Woody
Harrelson and Juliette Lewis), "Kill-
ers" examines what Downey te
"America's obsession ... with the un-
savory and the dark."Downey predicts
that many will cry foul at the film's
violence, pettily counting up "how
many murders per square cubic inch."
But this doesn't bother him, as he sees
"Killers" as one of the few movies that
are "really about something."
Indeed, aside from a focus on the
public's addiction to violence, "K
ers" also plays slash-and-burn with
media's role in the phenomenon.
"Oliver (Stone) is the first to admithow
he feels about the media and how they
frame our lives and how they some-
times tend to shape opinion rather than
reflect it," Downey articulates.
Stretehing his anus acrossthe back
of the sofa, Downey's eyes glimmer
excitedly as he talks about the Stone
film, which he terms a kind of "w
up call to the psyche of America." e
sees it as "the funniest and the most
scary thing" he's done. "There's noth-
ing lightaboutit,"he explains, terming
it a "not-feeling-so-good film." Fid-
dling anxiously with his lighter,
Downey pauses and adds, "but it's a
comedy."
It's apparent that Downey is de-
lighted to be working on such a ha
hitting work. When one reporter re-
See DowNEY, PAGt 13

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