Robert Downey: A futurist knows

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The actor and producer talks to Fortune about the big ideas that have impacted his views on technology and entertainment.

FORTUNE -- Robert Downey Jr. has become one of the most powerful players in Hollywood. But the 48-year-old actor admits he's not much of a networker. "I think about people, and I have a conversation with them in my head," he says. "But I tend to not reach out." In an interview about his career and the future of the movie industry, the Iron Man and Sherlock Holmes actor tells Fortune about the real-life discussions (Elon Musk!) that have influenced his thinking about technology, business, and entertainment. Edited portions of the interview will appear in the January 13 issue of Fortune; a lengthier excerpt of the Q&A follows.

Q. This isn't the first time your image has been on the cover of a business magazine. Tony Stark's face has graced the cover of a few news titles.
A. Yes! I wanted to close the circle.

Elon Musk has been compared to Tony Stark, and parts of Iron Man 2 were filmed at a SpaceX facility. Did you ever meet?
The genesis of that goes back to preproduction for Iron Man I, when SpaceX was in a smaller facility and Elon Musk was not a household name. As part of my research, I wanted to interview two people: John Underkoffler [the chief scientist at computer interface company Oblong] and Elon. I thought it was really interesting that he literally had decided to become a rocket scientist. And although the similarities kind of end with a certain -- what would you say? -- just an amazing self-agency, you know, that I think Elon really embodies. I was looking to Under­koffler for straight technology [advice]. You remember in Minor­ity Report, the character is wearing those gloves and moving the screens around? He and his company built that into a reality, so I was taking some cues from him: If Tony had designed his own software and his own programs and the machinery to operate them, what sort of language would he design to be able to ma­nipulate his environment? And over the course of all these mov­ies, that's been as much a part of Tony's character as anything else.
The spirit of Elon was really inspiring to me because Tony goes from doing one thing so well and so successfully, and goes to do something that's a lot more risky and much more far reaching.
And then in the second Iron Man, Tony Stark has a conversation with Elon Musk about doing a project together. I think it's electric jets if I'm not mistaken.
Robert Downey Jr. for Fortune Magazine

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Robert Downey Jr. dancing and shooting the cover for Fortune Magazine.

2014 Critics’ Choice Movie Award Nominations

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The critics have spoken! The 2014 Critics’ Choice Movie Awards nominations were announced December 16.

Robert Downey Jr. is nominated for Best Actor in an Action Movie for Iron Man 3, whereas Iron Man 3 received nominations for Best Visual Effects, Best Action Movie, and Gwyneth Paltrow for Best Actress in an Action Film.

The awards are given out by the Broadcast Film Critics Association, which is the largest film critics organization in the United States and Canada. Founded in 1995, the BFCA represents more than 280 television, radio, and online critics. The ceremony, hosted by Aisha Tyler, will be broadcast on The CW Jan. 16 at 8 p.m. ET.
RDJ is 2nd top-grossing actor of 2013

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It took Dwayne Johnson four films to accomplish what Robert Downey Jr. almost did in one film. The Rock finished the year as the highest grossing actor at the worldwide box office with Downey Jr. not far off.

The majority of Johnson's box office take comes from Fast & Furious 6 ($788.7 million) with G.I. Joe: Retaliation comprising the second highest gross at $375.7 million. Johnson's total worldwide box office for 2013 was $1.293 billion whereas Downey Jr., who only starred in Iron Man 3, pulled in $1.22 billion.

Here is the rest of the top 10 list:
  1. Dwayne Johnson - $1.3 billion
  2. Robert Downey Jr, - $1.2 billion
  3. Steve Carell - $964 million
  4. Vin Diesel - $887 million
  5. Sandra Bullock - $862 million
  6. Paul Walker - $789 million
  7. Billy Crystal - $743 million
  8. John Goodman - $743 million
  9. Chris Hemsworth - $701 million
  10. Jennifer Lawrence - $700 million


First Image from 'The Judge'

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As 2013 winds down to a close, Warner Bros. has unveiled some new images from a few of its 2014 titles. The debut image from director David Dobkin’s (Wedding Crashers) dramedy The Judge shows Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall face-to-face, as Downey Jr. plays a man who returns to his hometown when his father is suspected of murder. The film opens on October 10, 2014.
Robert Downey Jr. On the set of 'Chef'

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Jon Favreau tapes a special greeting from the set of Chef (2014) that aired at the 92nd Russian International Film Market (held on November 25-28th 2013) and features an appearance by Robert Downey Jr.

RDJ introducing the 1st episode of Playing It Forward

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Watch the full episode here.
'Playing It Forward' Concert Series

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Crackle, the multi-platform entertainment network, announced today the launch of its first original music series, “Playing It Forward.”  The special street performance-style follow-doc is produced by Team Downey, an entertainment company founded by Robert Downey Jr. and Susan Downey, alongside veteran music producer/composer Tony Berg and Kevin Lake. The “Playing It Forward” music movement will showcase surprise street performances by some of the world’s biggest artists in unplanned, unexpected environments across the country benefiting music education and charities of the artists’ choice.  The first episode will be available at tonight, and features a surprise show by acclaimed singer and songwriter John Legend.  The Grammy Award-winning artist performed three fan favorites, “All of Me,” “Ordinary People,” and “Shine” to an unsuspecting and amazed crowd at the Culver City Town Plaza in Los Angeles.

In addition to creating unforgettable content, “Playing It Forward” is committed to changing lives and supporting organizations dedicated to preserving music education.  Through each episode of “Playing it Forward,” $100,000 will be donated to the charity of the artists’ choice.  The first episode will benefit the Show Me Campaign, created by Legend, which works to break the cycle of poverty by giving children access to quality education through the promotion of scalable, proven solutions and programs.
RDJ threw a birthday party for wife Susan

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Robert Downey Jr. may not be a superhero in real life, but he sure knows how to make his wife feel special!

E! News has exclusively learned that the Iron Man star threw a star-studded bash for his wife Susan's 40th birthday, hosting a celebration at Cavallo Point near Sausalito, Calif. where guests, including Justin Theroux, Gwen Stefani, Gavin Rossdale, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jon Favreau and Reese Witherspoon, spent the entire weekend relaxing at a resort spa.

"It was a great weekend for Susan, and Robert went all out to make sure she knows how special she is," a source exclusively tells E! News of the getaway. "Around 50 of their closest friends came up for the weekend and stayed at the hotel in historic houses. It was a very relaxing weekend and there was a lot of time for people to catch up."

Guests spent the weekend enjoying the amenities at the resort, getting spa treatments, going on walks and celebrating Susan's birthday.

On Saturday night, there was a birthday party held in a ballroom of the hotel with dinner and dancing, and after the party there was a spectacular fireworks show over the water next to the Golden Gate Bridge. (How picturesque!)

"There were kids running around everywhere, and the whole weekend catered to families," the source says. "They had lot of kids' entertainment and the children were included in all of the events, even the nighttime birthday party. The whole group was very tight and very friendly. There was lots of hugging and reminiscing with old friends."
2013 Britannia Awards

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That’s Sir Ben to you. Robert Downey Jr. did the honors presenting an award to Ben Kingsley at this weekend’s Britannia Awards in L.A. - but not before getting a little practice in first. In the exclusive video below, check out his test runs. Best moments? The shout out to some of Kingsley’s lesser-known roles (Lord Uplandtowers in 1973′s Wessex Tales, anyone?) and Downey’s De Niro impression.

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[x065] TV Appearances & Interviews > 2013 > 2013 Britannia Awards - Nov 10

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