Pop 5: Robert Downey Jr. Characters

pop-break takes a guest blog from the staff at T-Shirts.com on their “pop 5” favorite characters of the man currently portraying Sherlock Holmes …

This list was put together by Tonja Thompson, who writes for T-Shirts.com, which sells many different movie T-Shirts.

Robert Downey Jr. has starred in some great films over the past three decades. He gained notoriety in the in the late ’80s and early ’90s for his award-winning on-screen roles and, less-glamorously, for his off-screen substance abuse problems in the late ’90s and early ’00s. Despite his personal issues, Downey made a career comeback, has remained a successful actor, and is one of my favorites to watch.

With the release of the second Sherlock Holmes movie, Sherlock Holmes: A Game oAf Shadows, and two upcoming movies, The Avengers (2012) and Iron Man 3 (2013), it seems fitting to highlight Downey and his movie successes. Because Downey has had many fantastic roles, it was difficult to choose only a few.

Paul Avery — Zodiac

In this film, based on the real-life investigation of the unsolved Zodiac killer case, Downey plays Paul Avery, a crime reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle. Avery covers the disturbing case and, as a result, becomes increasingly involved with alcohol and drugs. As the movie progresses, Avery goes from ambitious and driven to paranoid and reclusive. I love how Downey uses his own experiences with drinking and addiction to portray Avery and to draw you into the movie. I felt bad for Avery and, honestly, was surprised that he didn’t fall further off the deep end. (Seeing as the Zodiac killer personally threatened his life and was still out there, free to attack people.) Downey brings a bit of his own off-beat personality to the real-life character.

Tony Stark — Iron Man

At first I was not a fan of Robert Downey Jr. playing a superhero. Given his past roles and general personality, something about Downey as a save-the-day guy in an action film just rubbed me the wrong way. After I saw the movie, though, I was pleasantly surprised. Tony Stark is an arrogant playboy millionaire, but he is also a genius who ends up saving the world. I liked that he didn’t go from bad boy to complete goody two-shoes, but instead kept some of his personality. His witty sense of humor and charm makes him a likable jerk turned superhero, which only Downey could bring to the role.

Kirk Lazarus — Tropic Thunder

One of the most ridiculous and epic characters Downey has played so far is the “dude playin’ the dude disguised as another dude.” Lazarus is the over-the-top method actor who never breaks character, even when the cameras aren’t filming. He is so devoted to his character that he undergoes a controversial skin “pigmentation alteration” surgery, making him look African-American for his role as Sergeant Lincoln Osiris. Just thinking of this guy and his weird facial expressions makes me laugh. Downey does a hilariously great job of playing a prima donna actor who takes his job way too seriously — and rode it all the way to his second Oscar nomination.

Charlie Chapin — Chaplin
Downey’s portrayal brought him his first Golden Globe ad Oscar noms. Most people know the real life Charlie Chaplin as a funny filmmaker and actor; in Chaplin, Downey portrays the man Chaplin was off camera. Chaplin had a rough life from his troubled childhood through his scandal-filled adulthood. I noticed some historical inaccuracies, however. There have been a few details about Chaplin as a character that have been dramatized for movie purposes. That aside, Chaplin was a fascinating character and Downey portrayed him well.

Sherlock Holmes — Sherlock Holmes

Who doesn’t love a good detective story? Some have argued that Sherlock Holmes is not a very good movie and that Downey could be playing better roles. I, however, loved it and thought Downey was perfect for the part. Holmes is witty, a little wacky, and clever. He is also daring and a bit of a rule-breaker. See any similarities to Robert Downey Jr.? Plus, Jude Law as Watson makes the mystery-solving duo even better. I think Downey brought to Sherlock Holmes what Johnny Depp brought to Jack Sparrow. I look forward to seeing the sequel.

Honorable Mentions

Harry Lockhart — Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and James Barris — A Scanner Darkly
In Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Harry Lockhart is a petty criminal who is mistaken for an actor and must prepare for his upcoming role by teaming up with a private investigator. He then gets wrapped up in a real-life murder investigation. Lockhart is a quirky character and a bit of a tool (he narrates, rewinds, and pauses the film in order to critique his performance). In A Scanner Darkly, James Barris is a manipulative drug addict who only cares about himself. In this uniquely animated film, he ends up getting arrested for his involvement with the drug ‘Substance D’ and his attempt to frame his roommates for being part of a terrorist organization. Talk about being a bad roommate.

Founded in September 2009, The Pop Break is a digital pop culture magazine that covers film, music, television, video games, books and comics books and professional wrestling.

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