Iron Man 3 Cast on Suits, Superheroes and Sequels
By: Lynn Barker
After learning that he’s not the only superhero on the planet in The Avengers, Tony Stark aka Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) has withdrawn to his lab to beef up his gear. He’s also having a real, live-in relationship finally with Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), his once assistant turned slick, smart CEO of Stark Industries. His Air Force buddy James “Rhodey” Rhodes (Don Cheadle) now wears his own suit as the Iron Patriot and basically does PR for the military. He’d love to go into more action and he’ll get his chance in this film.
Tony’s obsession with improving Iron Man and an unpleasant blast from his past is about to break up his relationship when a new super baddie/terrorist called The Mandarin (Sir Ben Kingsley) appears and starts kicking international butt and taking names. Also involved is a scientist Tony once snubbed, Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) and a veteran of a long ago one-night stand with playboy Tony, Dr. Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall), a bio scientist whose invention will support both the Mandarin and Killian’s domination plans.
Kidzworld is in Beverly Hills talking with Robert, Gwyneth, Don, Sir Ben, Guy and Rebecca. Check it out….
Kidzworld: Robert, Tony gets to interact with a kid for the first time in this film. That was great. Can you talk about that part of the story and working with 11-year-old Ty Simpkins?
- Robert: Ty Simpkins is great. I think we’ll be seeing a lot of him. (Director) Shane Black had this idea for this kind of Capra-esque departure (as Tony is stuck with a damaged suit and no lab in a small town). A lot of things in Iron Man 3 we all knew we were taking risks and were out of the familiar territory and his idea of a superhero running into a little kid in the heartland of America I think wound up being a wise choice.
- Ty is great. I taught him everything he knows (laughter). I liked the idea of this kid getting under my (Tony’s) skin. I like the idea of kids bringing their parents to the verge of an anxiety attack and then going ‘What’s wrong with you?’ once they push you there (laughter).
Kidzworld: Yep, that happens. Gwyneth, can you talk about the “new” Pepper Potts? She’s CEO of the company, takes charge of her relationship with Tony (Iron Man) and kind of wears the pants..and the suit.
- Gwyneth: I feel really lucky that I got to play Pepper for that reason. I think very rarely do you start at such a distinctive place (with a character) then go somewhere else. I really loved their relationship in the first movie when she was cleaning up his messes then to get all the way to where she is at the end of the trilogy (of films) was a big transformation.
- I think one of the things I loved most is that she really stepped into her power in all areas. You do see her as a very intelligent and articulate CEO and you see her in an equal relationship with Tony where she wants her needs met as well while still remaining a very supportive woman in his life then, of course, she turns into a super hero…or sort of. It was a great transformation and I felt really lucky to be a part of it.
Kidzworld: With all the action Gwyneth, do you want to be a part of The Avengers next film?
- Don: I’d think you would ask me if I want to be part of The Avengers.
- Gwyneth: Yeah! I will say one of the most thrilling parts of going all over the place talking about this movie is that people really love seeing Pepper in the suit and kicking (butt). In the comics she becomes Rescue, her own person.
- Robert: And she marries Happy Hogan (Tony’s head of security).
Kidzworld: Was there any suit envy going on between Tony and Rhodey?
- Don: I know that when Robert was putting his suit on and just had the top of it on, I was putting mine on and he said, ‘Yeah, they found out from (movie) one to two that they had to make these changes and these are a lot more lightweight’ and I was like ‘Mine weighs seven thousand pounds! (laughter) ‘What are you talking about lightweight?’
- Gwyneth: You guys are wimps, okay? The suit’s not that bad!
- Robert: But you never wore Don’s.
- Gwyneth: But I did wear a suit.
- Don: You didn’t wear my suit.
- Robert: I admit we’re wimps and I admit that Don’s suit was so hard to even pick up to put on him. It’s like any of the CGI stuff, Ben was in special effects make-up the whole time. You always wonder where it’s going to bite you and Don, I promise, my dearest brother, I will never let that happen to you again.
- Don: I was like ‘Can you add something else on there?’ But, it was fun.
- Robert: But Gwyneth did come in and was having a ball and her kids were there and she was in rockin’ shape but I think she wore the suit once or twice and it’s a cumulative issue (hurts the more you wear it).
- Gwyneth: Oh God. (rolls her eyes)
Kidzworld: Don you seem to have a ball doing this film and you are in the suits of Iron Patriot and War Machine as well. Also Rhodey’s relationship with Tony is more developed. Can you talk about that?
- Don: Well the Iron Patriot (suit) is about three kilos heavier so I prefer War Machine. Robert and I said ‘Let’s really kick this relationship off and really try to see who these guys are’. A lot of the fun for me in this movie was getting to do a lot of action outside of the suit and getting to work with the stunt team and doing a lot of the cable (wire) work, that was a big thrill for me. I was a big kid getting to play with the best toys.
- I think you can see that the relationship (between Tony and Rhodey) is strengthened in this one and it pays off the promise that I think was made at the end of Iron Man 2 in the Japanese garden where these guys really started to bust each other’s chops. You know they’re friends but they still really help balance one another. I thought that really came to fruition in this one.
- Robert: Our stunt coordinator came over to me and said ‘You see that Don just rolled into the room and fired off all those shots and still knows exactly where he’s supposed to go?’ I said ‘Yeah, what are you getting at?’ ‘Nothin’. (laughter)
Kidzworld: Robert, can you talk about Sir Ben Kingsley as super baddie The Mandarin?
- Robert: I think these movies are only as good as their bad guys and in addition to what we wanted to happen with Pepper which was kind of overdue, Tony and Rhodey had this power of their partnership that expanded in The Avengers, so really, all that was (taken care of). Once we cast Sir Ben (as the Mandarin) half our troubles went away. The rest was execution of his peculiar and awesome (story) arc.
Kidzworld: Sir Ben, how much of the Mandarin’s character was in the script and how much did you bring to it?
- Sir Ben: It’s all in the script. Drew and Shane (co-writers) presented us with a wonderful document. It was rare that we’d stray off the written word. Whenever we do improvise in general, it’s just to sharpen one or two different ideas that we were playing with on the set but it’s all there.
- I tried to give the Mandarin, in his political broadcasts, an unnerving sense of righteousness and make him almost paternalistic, patriarchal. His line ‘You’ll never see me coming’ sort of voices that unpredictability that he has. It was a great script and a wonderful read and we stuck very closely to it.
Kidzworld: This movie is very funny. Was it supposed to be darker then switched to more humorous?
- Robert: Well, let me say that once we let Sir Ben Kingsley off the chain, we found out he’s a glorious improviser and a lot of the ideas for his character arc were just flowing from him. But the story is really good and the twists are really good but I would let my cohorts here talking about working with me on other scenes. Don?
- Don: Do you want me to say what you paid me to say or (laughter). It was great to come back this time around. Shane has put his stamp on these funny action movies. It was great to see it all put together at the end because we all had such different tracks. I didn’t know what the others were doing for half the movie (laughter) ‘Oh, that’s what you guys were going over there.’ I saw Sir Ben only twice on set. We all had a ball and Robert is a prince as you know. (Robert wiggles his eyebrows).
Kidzworld: Iron Man 3 is a sequel to both the last Iron Man movie and The Avengers franchise. How does everything mesh together?
- Gwyneth: The truth is that these movies work because Robert plays Tony Stark, not only because of his own specific brand of humor and vulnerability and strength and similarity to his own life, but he has a really big picture, creative mind about what these movies should feel like. We all know that Marvel puts in the stunts and the CGI and the action but one particular strength of Robert’s that we don’t see on screen is that he’s always asking ‘What is the big picture here? How can we make it feel real? How can we make it feel like something you care about and really want to watch?’ So that’s why the movies keep working and aren’t a weaker carbon copy of the one before.
Kidzworld: What do you want kids to get out of a superhero movie like this?
- Don: After the bombing I’ve been asked if there are any connections to what is happening in the real world and in the film (there is terrorism in the movie) and are we trying to make a statement and clearly this movie was in the can before anything happened last week. But the job of this movie is to entertain and that’s what we’re hoping to do. Outside of that, if we’re lucky enough to change someone’s mind about what is happening or create sensitivity that wasn’t there before, that’s a bi-product that we couldn’t have anticipated. We’re trying to give people the ability to go into a darkened room and have a couple of hours of just pure enjoyment.
- Robert: Once you have feedback (from kids) it’s not like you don’t figure that into what you’re doing. Disney acquired Marvel but Marvel was already mindful of this stuff. It’s not like it’s one of those PG-13 films bordering on how did this ever get past the ratings commission movies. We’re really thoughtful about this stuff and I think even in Ben’s character’s transition (to a separate character – spoiler alert) it allows the air to be taken out of the darkness of (the Mandarin character).
- Ben: Also in every scene there is always a quest for sincerity and the genuine as Robert says. A quest to put a human dance on the screen. Children do respond to sincerity. All generations do. Robert will always debate where is the heart and sincerity in the scene and I think that will appeal to children of all ages.
Kidzworld: With the recent bombings will younger kids be scared of explosions in the film?
- Gwyneth: We do live in an unsafe world. That’s the truth and I’m dealing with my seven-year-old. He’s struggling with the fact that the world is unsafe and there are people who do harmful things and I don’t think there is anything wrong with presenting that idea. We can’t lie to our children and pretend that the world is perfect and everybody is happy and out there to do good. So, it’s just part of a bigger conversation. I know that after my children saw the movie I had certain conversations with my son about it. It’s a contained place to have a conversation.
Robert told a funny story about director Shane Black.
- Robert: We were night shooting and when we’d cut, he’d just run somewhere. The only time someone couldn’t ask him a question was when he was at a full run.
- He ran across the street and next thing I knew he was sitting on the sidewalk. There was a cable in front of where we were working and he had hit it at such a clip that it had thrown him on the side, dislocated his shoulder…
- Gwyneth: This is not a funny story.
- Don: It’s kinda funny.
- Robert: He’s fine.
- Gwyneth: Robert, he had cracked ribs and he was all bloody.
- Don: Oh my God, it gets better. (laughter)
- Gwyneth: I teased Shane about his terrible outfits but he’s so sharp and smart. He took it up a notch and I had great respect for him.
- Sir Ben: I only remember one terrible outfit.
- Don: It was really bad, though. (laughter)
Kidzworld: This movie kind of wraps up a lot of the Iron Man story. We assume there will still be more movies in addition to the Avengers films?
- Robert: The future, as usual, in uncertain and we never knew who was going to come together for the third Iron Man and usually the third of anything struggles to meet the level of the first one so in all earnestness, things are very much in flux right now. Marvel has their plans and we’re all living and growing and we’ll see what happens.
At this point we are joined by actors Guy Pearce who plays baddie Aldrich Killian and Rebecca Hall who plays bio-scientist Dr. Maya Hansen.
Kidzworld: Rebecca, you don’t usually do superhero movies. What was this like for you?
- Rebecca: It was a combination of ‘Don’t knock it till you try it’ and this one seemed like it would be very fun to try. I remember going to see the first Iron Man film and thinking ‘How unusual. They aren’t casting action heroes, they’re casting Robert Downey Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow. This must be interesting’. I remember watching and thinking it wasn’t just about the action sequences and the thrill ride, it’s also about the wit and the repartee and the dialogue. There was something sort of like a screwball, battle of the sexes comedy going on which I loved. This would be a great thing to be a part of.
Kidzworld: Was it a little intimidating being on such a big film?
- Rebecca: It was like the fear of going to an amusement park and going on a scary ride. You know it’s exciting and might be a bit scary but it will be fun then you can get off at the end. You tackle the challenges.
- Guy: You do feel kind of nervous. If I feel inspired enough by a job to want to take it on then any kind of concerns that have you’re prepared to face. I had no concerns that would stop me from doing it. You just want to bring a truth to the character you are playing. There was a lot of green screen stuff. I’d done a bit before. On some level, it’s kind of fun because you rely on your imagination. In this one you didn’t have to imagine a person in front of you that wasn’t there. The effects people show you how your scene is meant to look.
Kidzworld: Did you get a sense of the Marvel style of movie on this?
- Guy: Not necessarily. Shane and Robert were sort of leading the charge. I think the interesting thing about doing this is that there were two previous films that were successful and Rebecca and I had seen both of those films and were fans and admired them. So, it was interesting to step into something that already existed. Working with Robert is quite specific. He’s the genius that he is. He’s a lot of fun and likes to improvise. You’ve really got to be on your toes. We were aware of the visual effects going on behind the scenes, the world that would be incorporated later.