Thursday, December 24, 2009


"Sherlock Holmes"-- it's a big movie and tomorrow, when it opens, is a big day for Downey.

I've been looking at clips, wondering what I can say that will add to what's been said and what you probably know.

Downey-the-actor's career has been on a steady rise upward. Downey-the-man has had much publicized ups and downs.

We were living in Malibu during his "down," when he was required to be at a hearing, held before a judge in the Malibu courthouse.

It's next to the entrance to the library, so picking up books, I saw the crowd waiting to get a glimpse of Downey -- found it interesting -- we'd seen some very famous actors in the parking lot at Hughes Market, at the post office, Malibu Hardware, various restaurants, even occasionally at Starbucks.

Malibu-ites don't stop and stare, or zoom in for autographs. It seems to be an un-spoken, un-written rule. (JC at that time was a recognizable "name"-- on TV every week in "Northern Exposure." The clerks in the grocery, post office, drugstore, without asking, addressed him as Mr. Cullum.)

The crowd waiting for Downey wasn't just tourists -- it was Malibu-ites, (people I knew), as well as fans from Santa Monica, Pasadena, and Hollywood. All the parking lots were jammed.

I bought into Robert Downey Jr., the very first time I saw him. The movie was "Less than Zero," and he made it touching, involving.

The "downs" in this actor's life don't interest me as much as the ups.

I loved him and Mel Gibson in "Air America," was amazed by him as "Charlie Chaplin." I watched the Ally McBeal television series when he joined the cast. I missed the movie, but read the raves for him, in the hit movie, "Iron Man," and thoroughly enjoyed Downey in Ben Stiller's "Tropic Thunder."

Robert Downey has been a working actor since 1970 (when he was 15). He's been in 60 films.

He's not pretty, and he's not handsome. He's short -- five-foot-seven or so, depending upon what lifts he's wearing in his shoes, and weighs -- up and down -- about 155. (I'm guessing, based on my experienced eye -- I can't find any specifics anywhere, about his actual weight.)

So, what is it that makes him such an employable actor?

Well ... he's a character actor, but also a "leading man" type. Five-foot-seven is short for a leading man -- but in quite a few movies, as the leading man -- he was charming, sexy, tender, strong, very masculine, lovable.

Downey has the ability to enter the character he plays, become that person without adding or inventing external characteristics. It's a special talent, different from those actors who change, when they don the character's clothes.

Is it method acting? Sure, but Downey's method isn't the set of emotional exercises that the method actor uses, practices, and does during rehearsal.

There is in Downey an openness, an ability to be someone else. In each film he's different, and yet, he's himself. But the timbre of his voice changes -- the look in and around his eyes, his mouth, the way he carries himself, and his moments of thoughtful repose -- change.

To my eye he's a natural. It's easy for him to become someone else. And he doesn't watch himself in a mirror, or listen to the sound of his voice (like some actors do) -- he's just IT, that other person.

In the trailers, and clips for "Sherlock Holmes," he's older, wiser, and seems like a detective.

In a recent interview, (the link follows this paragraph) he still seems to be studying the interviewer, searching for clues. Though he responds to the interviewer, he's Holmes/Downey.

Take a look. It's not a very good interview, but it's interesting to see Downey awkwardly trying to be himself.

Here's an interview from last year. Again, Downey's trying to be himself, sort of laughing at himself. (I think he understands the characters that he plays more than he understands himself -- only when he's performing, do I feel him relax, and be Robert D.) Have a look.

The "Sherlock Holmes" clips and the trailers I've seen don't draw me to the theater to buy a ticket. The preview scenes and the music fit with the "create suspense" elements of the box office hit films today -- the trailers suggest that the film is chock- full of spooky, scary, possibly shocking, terrifying happenings.

Hmm ... When I see it, I'm sure I'll enjoy Downey's work -- not sure that the story, the case that Sherlock Holmes is solving, will get me involved in the case, beyond just watching an very gifted actor.

Even if Robert Downey Jr. is not nominated for an Oscar for this film, sooner or later he'll be nominated again, (he's already been nominated twice), and very likely he'll win -- there's no one quite like him in Hollywood.

1 comment:

Carola said...

I like Downey too. Your analysis was excellent. There are a lot of things about the Sherlock Holmes movie that don't appeal to me too but I'll probably rent it from Netflix because of the acting.

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