The actor finds personal parallels in the festival’s opening gala The Judge, about an unlikeable lawyer who becomes a stand-up guy.
Robert Downey Jr. chuckles slyly when he’s reminded how quotably cynical his legal weasel character Hank Palmer is in The Judge, the Sept. 4 gala opener for the Toronto International Film Festival.
“Everybody wants Atticus Finch,” goes one Palmer zinger, “until there’s a dead hooker in the hot tub.”
“Ha, ha!” Downey laughs down the wire from Los Angeles.
“I think we’re going to mass-print a bumper sticker with that quote on it, so you’re on the money.”
This certainly fits the image most people have of Downey, 49. He’s known for his rapier tongue both on and off the screen, whether he’s playing a superhero smartass in Iron Man and The Avengers, summoning cerebral quips as a reinvented Sherlock Holmes or trading barbs with other Hollywood A-listers at the Oscars or Golden Globes.
Yet Downey’s ambition for The Judge, a TIFF world premiere produced by his wife Susan Downey and directed by David Dobkin (Wedding Crashers), goes in a different direction. He wants to show how even the most unlikeable of guys can become a stand-up guy, if the will is there and the stars align.
“My highest hope for The Judge,” he says, “is that it would represent Hank’s salvation in the unlikeliest of circumstances.”