This past January, Robert Downey Jr. was at the Sundance Film Festival to promote The Singing Detective, a reworking of the brilliant 1988 BBC miniseries. We sat down in the great room of the Hotel Park City — a cavernous lodge with a stunning mountain view and steam rising off the heated pool in the rear — to discuss singing, sixth grade, and, frankly, whatever else popped into his head. — Scott Brown
RD: What’s up, Scotty? What’s up, baby?
EW: This is your last interview of the day, so just let loose.
RD: Well, you’re a f — -in’ son of a bitch! Master Brown, how may we assist you in your queries?
EW: The film seems to split audiences right down the middle.
RD: I’m encouraged by that. Half of them liked it? That means we’ve got a chance! [He crosses his legs] In Thailand, this is like flipping someone off, so I apologize. [In English accent] I’m sorry, what was the question, old bean? [Back to ”normal”] I’ll never forget when Hugh Grant called me ”fruit bat” on the set of Restoration. I was like, ”What the f — – did you just say to me, bro? Because if I didn’t know that you were going to do About a Boy and actually be about something, I’d knock you cold right now, you f — -er.”
[At this point, Downey is on his feet, mock fighting with me. He then leaps astride a giant timber fence and commences broncobusting.]
EW: Um…did you consider this a movie musical?
RD: I thought this was a funny, dark comedy where they just break into song and dance. I was thinking, I can’t do this; this is too hard. Like my book report in sixth grade on the Pueblo Indians. I banged it out in two hours. And Mr. Hunter said, ”Now I’d like to talk about one student’s efforts… Robert, excellent, A+.” And I was like, ”Sonofabitch!” That’s a s — -ty lesson to learn. It’s the f — -in’ anti-lesson.