March 1, 2024

Christopher Nolan had a Shakespearian moment when he came to The Late Show. In a reverse of Marc Antony, he came to praise Robert Downey Jr., his Oppenheimer star, not to bury him.

Downey Jr. is regarded as the Oscar front-runner for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Lewis Strauss in Oppenheimer.

Nolan was particularly effusive about Downey Jr.’s portrayal of Iron Man, which propelled the Marvel Universe, thanks to Downey Jr.’s boundless charisma.

“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.”

Despite his acting talents, Downey Jr. manages to generate a connection with audiences by leaving room for others, Nolan said.

“You’re looking for some kind of generosity. He has this incredible generosity of spirit. It means when he’s in a scene with other people he’s making sure they are all doing their best, that they are all able to bring their best to the table. He’s helping them clarify those emotional connections.”

It wasn’t always such a love connection between Downey Jr. and Nolan.

Downey Jr. recalled meeting Nolan about playing Scarecrow in 2005’s Batman Begins. The actor made his comments during a Q&A with the audience following a screening of Oppenheimer at the Aero Theater in Los Angeles.

“I remember meeting for tea, and I was like, ‘He doesn’t seem like he’s really leaning in on this interview.’ And he was polite and all that, but I mean, you know, you can tell when someone is kind of like, ‘It’s not gonna go your way.’”

The role of Dr. Jonathan Crane, the Scarecrow, would ultimately go to Downey Jr.’s Oppenheimer co-star, Cillian Murphy.

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