As he talks, Downey grazes on a healthy-looking feast of greens and brown rice served in takeout containers (on an Hermès tray), and at the end of the interview he offers a quick tour of the house, as if to prove that he has nothing to hide. In the kitchen, he points out a photo of himself and “the missus” with President Bush and the first lady. Upstairs, he shows off his nondescript bathroom (the house is leased, and it shows) and even reveals his wife's meticulously color-coordinated closet. (Susan Downey, whom Robert met in 2002 on the set of Gothika, is executive vice president of Joel Silver's Silver Pictures and has produced such films as Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and House of Wax.)
The very last stop on the tour is the master bedroom, where on the fireplace mantel Downey has assembled a personal shrine. Surrounded by candles, there's a Sioux peace pipe, a picture of his son, Indio (from a previous marriage, to actress Deborah Falconer), pieces of Buddhist statuary and, at the center of it all, a model of Iron Man, dressed in a prototype of the costume he will soon don. In a mock-defensive voice, Downey explains that the shield-shaped emblem on Iron Man's chest, which looks a lot like Superman's S, will certainly be changed so as not to be so reminiscent of that other “much, much less important superhero.”
Asked how much input he had on the costume, with its rippling muscles and bulging codpiece, Downey pulls a face that says, Let me level with you, kid.
“To tell you the truth, I have primary input,” he deadpans, with an arched eyebrow to emphasize that every bulge beneath Iron Man's heroic costume is real. “You might say I'll be filling the role.”