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Due Date Interview

Star of the Iron Man films and Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes, Robert Downey Jr has a long and colourful cinema career. Recently in London to talk about his film Due Date, alongside co-star Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover, Up in the Air) they both offered their opinions on comedy acting, spitting on dogs and pinching your fellow actors.

How do you feel when you’re offered parts that aren’t entirely normal?
Zach Galifianakis (ZG): I only get … I really haven’t been offered a lot of parts except by Todd, but they’re never normal. But I prefer that … I like it.

Robert Downey Jnr (RDJ): This just reminded me … it had the potential to be like some of the films tonally that I’d grown up really enjoying, and that impacted me. But it had its own sensibility, obviously as it’s a Todd Phillips movie, and then it was just an incredibly creative venture.

How did you develop your screen chemistry?
RDJ: [Looks at Zach] Don’t just stand there with glistening eyes, answer the fucking question!

ZG: Yes, sir.

RDJ: He’s formulating his answer to the question now, while he stumbles getting ready to answer the question.

ZG: I think you’re seeing the chemistry in action, this is basically how it went down each morning: insults, insults, insults, and then somehow magically and beautifully some of that energy was put into the movie, quite honestly. Pretty good answer, huh?

In comedy how far is too far, and that’s for everyone but especially Zach?
RDJ: He’s the wrong person to ask.

ZG: I think with Todd’s movies, that’s the whole point, to go too far. Sometimes in comedy I would imagine you have to do that because so many beats have been done in movies before but the good thing about Todd is that there are things, like a masturbating dog, that you haven’t seen since the old silent films.

Is it true that you were allergic to the dog?
ZG: I have an allergy to certain … Yes, I got a hair in my eye and my eye got big but there’s not much of a story there.

Your character seems very camp in the film. Is he meant to be gay?
Director Todd Phillips (TP): He's not playing gay.

ZG: I think the character is theatrical and emotional and a little show offy and if that’s gay then I’m gay. Todd and I discussed that, we didn’t want him to be seen either way.

TP: We wanted to make sure he came off as asexual but we made a point of pointing out that he lost his virginity at nine-years-old to Sheila Pimples, so there’s a badge of heterosexuality I think.

RDJ: There was more to that, wasn’t there?

TP: Well it used to be his dad’s secretary but people had issues with that.

ZG: Heart of gold but slow typist.

You’ve worked with Todd on three films in short space of time, so is he the love of your life?
ZG: To be honest, Todd is the … [rattles cup and saucer in mock embarrassment] I’m very fortunate that Todd and I got to meet because I don’t think I would have been given this big an opportunity from other directors who saw what he did … whatever he saw. And we do work very well together and I’m very appreciative and I do think about it every day, because he texts me to remind me!

Robert, you spat on the dog, how did it take to that?
RDJ: I think one of the things I love about Due Date is that I get kicked off the plane and then the guys says: “The person you travelled with ...” And I say: “I’ve never met that dipshit in my life!” And he says: “He had nothing but nice things to say about you.” And Todd [Phillips] said: “Just to make it definitive that you don’t want to hang out with this clown anymore, just spit in his dog’s face.” It was right after lunchtime and I said: “No, isn’t that going too far?” And he said: “Spit in the dog’s face … I love dogs, he doesn’t mind.” So, I spat in the dog’s face and Sonny [the dog] was just like: “Ooh, what happened? Did he have to get something out of his throat or something? I hope he feels better …” And I was thinking: “My God, what is wrong with us?” That’s the great thing about comedies and particularly with Todd being at the front of that bloodline right now, I see the process both on the set when we were figuring out what to do with the scenes and then at early test screenings and stuff.

There was this thing that we all agreed was hugely outrageous, this moment in act three when I finally asked him: “How did your Dad pass away, I never knew?” And Zach turns to me and says: “Oh, sharing needles …” You’re thinking: ‘That’s so wrong!’ But Todd says: “Well, let’s see what the audience thinks …” And they were like, ‘That’s sick, I’m going to walk out!’

ZG: I thought it would be funny to see on the credits ‘Due Date, starring Robert Downey Jr., Jamie Foxx … a dog … Zach Galifianakis’. [laughs]

Are you more comfortable in comedy or drama?
RDJ: I’m equally comfortable doing any medium. The thing about comedy, if that’s what you want to call this – I call it spectacularity – is it’s more light-hearted and Todd runs a set that is just a very small group of people making fundamental decisions with a very trusting studio’s money. My dad was saying to me, and my dad was a maker of underground films back in the late ‘60s and stuff, and he said this reminds me of the kind of stuff me and my friends would be doing if we had the opportunity nowadays. So, keep hope alive.

What was the first meeting between the two of you like and is it true Robert that you wanted to punch Zach?
RDJ: [Smiling] Susan was there, my wife, and she was worried for me, I don’t tend to recognise people and I didn’t know exactly who Zach was yet. [Looking towards his wife] What was my reaction? I looked like I was going to drop him on the pavement? I don’t like punching Zach … but it has to be done.

ZG: He doesn’t punch me, he pinches me …

RDJ: I do pinch him ... Yes [pinches him again]

ZG: And it drives me absolutely [swerving the pinch] … absolutely insane!

Check out the trailer for Due Date here. Due Date is released November 25.

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Content updated: 17/10/2019 09:47

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