Robert Downey Jr.’s Best Performance Isn’t as Iron Man, It’s This

The Huge Image

  • Robert Downey Jr.’s function in
    showcases his versatility as an actor past his iconic Marvel function.
  • Downey’s portrayal of Paul Avery is a mix of caprice, wit, and emotional depth that provides a novel layer to the movie.
  • Downey’s characters typically current a selection for others to affix him or not, and
    is not any exception, with Avery main his colleagues on a darkish path of analysis.

Most youthful movie-going audiences know Robert Downey Jr. for his spot-on efficiency because the unofficial MCU chief, Iron Man. Whereas he deserves all of the credit score that he has garnered for setting the Marvel Cinematic Universe on its upward trajectory in 2008, Downey has a number of extra roles that in all probability higher mirror the dynamic actor’s versatility. Most just lately, he was nominated for an Oscar for Greatest Supporting Actor for his work in Christopher Nolan‘s Oppenheimer.

However one in all his most underrated and underseen performances got here as Paul Avery in grasp filmmaker David Fincher‘s taut psychological thriller Zodiac in 2007 — only a yr earlier than he would set the cinema world on hearth along with his trailblazing Marvel function. Downey is all the time at his most interesting when he is working at breakneck pace and like a canine chasing his personal tail. Fortunately for us, that is precisely the best way he’s on this movie, which is predicated on a real story of the serial killer that terrorized Northern California within the late Sixties and into the ’70s.


Between 1968 and 1983, a San Francisco cartoonist turns into an newbie detective obsessive about monitoring down the Zodiac Killer, an unidentified particular person who terrorizes Northern California with a killing spree.

Launch Date
March 2, 2007


Primary Style

James Vanderbilt , Robert Graysmith

There’s a couple of option to lose your life to a killer

What Is David Fincher’s ‘Zodiac’ About?

Starting in 1968, a masked assailant started killing younger individuals in and across the Bay Space in California. What made this “Zodiac” serial killer so distinctive was his want for consideration and toying with the media. They’d ship ciphers to members of the press together with the newsmen of The San Francisco Chronicle to taunt them about who they actually had been and once they may kill once more. One of many journalists working on the paper at the moment was Paul Avery, a crime-beat author who ended up knee-deep within the thriller and terror that the Zodiac killer introduced for a interval of over ten years in complete.

Downey brings his patented dose of caprice to the character of Avery together with the rapier-like wit that we see in Tony Stark and the silver tongue of lots of his different roles. As Avery, his easy-going boozy life-style is shortly turned the other way up because the Zodiac stays one step forward of him and taunts the newsman for years. The great thing about this efficiency and what makes it a little bit of an outlier is that Downey additionally brings an emotionally wrought stage to Avery that’s per the very bleak and heinous tone of the movie.

What Makes Robert Downey Jr. So Good in ‘Zodiac’?

Newsroom banter performed proper can produce a number of the most entertaining and fast-paced dialogue in movie. There’s something in regards to the up-tempo urgency to the supply that makes for some actual edge-of-your-seat thrills, and the actors concerned usually need to be fast, intelligent, and articulate. Sound like somebody you understand? Downey Jr. was born to play a reporter (he additionally nails it as a shock journalist in Pure Born Killers), and he actually delivers some hard-hitting and poignant moments in a darkish movie that serves because the excellent counterbalance to the traditional, light-hearted components that he routinely brings to a undertaking.

The forwards and backwards between Avery and cartoonist-turned-cipher solver Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal) are the very best exchanges within the movie. Avery is the bibulous and jaded veteran that serves as the right sounding board for the keen however out-of-his-element Graysmith. These two play off one another like All of the President’s Males‘s Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, and it is a pleasure to look at.

Robert Downey Jr. Is aware of How you can Spiral Downward

We have seen Downey Jr. characters do a tough downward spiral earlier than. His heartbreaking portrayal of Julian within the 1987 hit Less Than Zero was a breakout efficiency for the younger actor. In it, he turns into hooked on crack cocaine and ultimately loses every thing, together with his life. So when Avery begins to hit the booze exhausting after years of developing brief making an attempt to catch the taunting serial killer, he begins to routinely address the bottle. Avery turns into a recluse, dwelling on a houseboat and consuming himself right into a stupor earlier than consuming some extra. Everyone knows a number of the points that the resilient performer has handled in his private life, and possibly he’s so good as a beaten-down washout due to a number of the exhausting experiences he has gone via. No matter it’s, he nails the a part of Avery, and Fincher greater than doubtless knew what he might count on when he forged Downey within the function.

A lot of Robert Downey Jr.’s Motion pictures Have a Frequent Theme

Robert Downey Jr. in Less Than Zero
Picture through twentieth Century Studios

In lots of Robert Downey Jr. films, there comes a vital level within the story the place you must determine whether or not to affix Downey’s character on no matter trajectory he’s on, good or dangerous. In Oppenheimer, he’ll play a divisive however highly effective politician who promotes a sure agenda that some observe and others reject (sound acquainted?). J. Robert Oppenheimer has to make the selection. In Much less Than Zero, he was pulling his pals into the darkish abyss of habit, they usually needed to make the selection to not observe. Within the MCU, Tony Stark inherently has a way of placing a really binary selection of fine vs. evil in entrance of his eventual allies and enemies.


Most of Downey’s greatest roles share this theme. He has such an infectious persona that lets the viewers know that he’s all the time a pacesetter and by no means a follower. He marches to the beat of his personal drum and provides others the choice of both becoming a member of or not. You are both with him or you’re in opposition to him. In Zodiac, much like his function as Julian in Much less Than Zero, Downey’s portrayal of Avery is a personality that provides his newsroom colleague Robert Graysmith a selection. Observe him into the depths of alcoholic despair and turn out to be a washout or do not. Both means, he’s going to proceed as deliberate.

Zodiac is on the market to look at on Paramount+ within the U.S.

Watch on Paramount+

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