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Robert Downey Jr. Says Christopher Nolan Suggested ‘An Understated Approach’ to Resurrect ‘Dwindling Credibility’

Robert Downey Jr. Says Christopher Nolan Suggested 'An Understated Approach' to Resurrect 'Dwindling Credibility'

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  • Robert Downey Jr. credits Nolan for career resurgence in BAFTA speech, thanking him for pushing his limits.
  • Downey Jr.’s portrayal of
    ‘s nemesis earns him accolades amidst career milestones.
  • Awards season success may lead to Downey Jr.’s first Oscar win, marking a historic moment in his career.

Robert Downey Jr. has racked up awards this season for his portrayal of Lewis Strauss in Christopher Nolan‘s Oppenheimer. During his speech for his Best Supporting Actor win at the British Academy of Film Awards, Downey Jr. took the London stage where he reflected on his career and thanked “that dude” Nolan.

“When I was 15, I wanted to be Peter O’Toole. When I was 25, I worked for Richard Attenbourgh and Anthony Hopkins. When I was 35, I finally understood why Dickie thought Tony would be a better role model for me than Peter. “When I was 42, I did two films for Guy Ritchie and learned how to make big Hollywood movies with a civil British flare. I then played a guy named Tony in the MCU for about 12 years. And then recently, that dude Chris Nolan suggested I attempt an understated approach as a last-ditch effort to perhaps resurrect my dwindling credibility. So I share this with my fellow nominees, this has been an exceptional year.”



Release Date
July 21, 2023

Universal Pictures, Atlas Entertainment, Syncopy

Downey Jr. was up against Robert De Niro (Killers of the Flower Moon), Ryan Gosling (Barbie), Jacob Elordi (Saltburn), Paul Mescal for (All of Us Strangers) and Dominic Sessa for (The Holdovers) for the BAFTA.

In Nolan’s epic biography about the father of the atomic bomb, physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer (portrayed by Cillian Murphy), Downey Jr. portrays Oppenheimer’s nemesis Strauss, the AEC Chairman whose disdain for Oppenheimer is the catalyst for a private security hearing about the physicist’s Q clearance. Before landing the career-marking role, Downey Jr. starred in 2020’s critically panned Doolittle following more than a decade as Tony Stark/Iron Man.

Robert Downey Jr. Says Christopher Nolan Had a Vision that He ‘Couldn’t See for Himself’

Christopher Nolan Receiving his Golden Globe and Robert Downey Jr. as Lewis Strauss in Oppenheimer
Universal Pictures

During a Q&A for Oppenheimer earlier this month, Downey Jr. expressed the impact of Nolan offering him the role of Strauss:

“I was at a place in my life in my career, where I needed someone to have a vision of what was possible for me that I couldn’t see for myself.”

During the awards season, Nolan has also been open about his praise for Downey Jr. During a recent appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, the auteur spoke about his desire to work with Downey Jr.:

“I’ve always wanted to work with him. I’ve always seen that in his work,” Nolan said. “And he has such charisma as Tony Stark. Him playing Iron Man is one of the most consequential casting decisions that’s ever been made in the history of the movie business.”


12 Underrated Robert Downey Jr. Movies You Probably Missed

Robert Downey Jr. has become one of the most popular actors in Hollywood in the last 15 years. Here are 12 films of his you may not have seen.

Downey Jr.’s Critics Choice, Golden Globe, and BAFTA wins suggest the actor will take home his first Oscar statuette at this year’s Academy Awards presentation (which will air on March 10 on ABC). Throughout his decades-long career, Downey Jr. has amassed praise for his work on films like Chaplin, Good Night, and Good Luck, Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, and A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, and for his work on the series Ally McBeal. He previously earned Oscar nods for Chaplin and Tropic Thunder.

In addition to Downey Jr.’s win, Oppenheimer won BAFTAs for Best Director (Nolan), Best Lead Actor (Cillian Murphy), Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Original Score, and Best Film.

is streaming on Peacock.

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