Robert Downey Jr. talks about the moment he felt a connection with his late father at the premiere of their documentary

Most movie buffs are sure to know Robert Downey Jr., the man most famous for playing Marvel’s Tony Stark/Iron Man for over a decade. Of course, many movie buffs are probably also familiar with his famous filmmaker father, Robert Downey Sr., dead at 85 last summer. (A little after, Downey Jr. paid tribute to his father.) Prior to his passing, the prolific performer and his son were producing an illustrious documentary career. Now, in the middle of his debut, the Marvel alum has opened up about a time when he felt particularly connected to his late father.

Sr. debuted at the Telluride Film Festival last Friday, and it was at the annual event that Robert Downey Jr. experienced the aforementioned moment. The actor explained to vanity lounge that years ago his father was lifting a barrel of chemicals when he injured his back. (Downey Sr. worked at the World’s Fair at one time.) As you can imagine, the injury caused the man great pain, and Robert Downey Jr. says he felt something similar to the middle of the first of his doc:

About 11 seconds before we left to come here, I backed up. So I’m in this weird meditation of empathy for my dad’s lingering pain, and I’ll tell you: sprains at altitude are all the more enjoyable.

Sr., directed by Chris Smith, focuses on the final years of Robert Downey Sr., who was shooting one last movie as his health deteriorated. By People, the doc, and Downey Sr.’s final film were originally two concepts but, at the suggestion of Robert Downey Jr.’s wife, Susan, the two concepts were merged. So far, the film has received positive reviews. Vikram Murti from IndieWire, while acknowledging the film’s flaws, considered it a solid tribute to the late underground filmmaker. It’s surely not lost on Downey that he debuted a film about his father at the festival he once pitched it at, and he opened up about the full honor with Vanity Fair:

We love circles. Sometimes you have to force them to be circular to be able to make sense of it. This one is a bit more organic.

Father and son have certainly forged different paths in Hollywood. Robert Downey Jr. was taking on mainstream projects even before he started his stint in the marvel movies. His father, on the other hand, was known for his experimental independent films. His most famous work is undoubtedly Putney Swipea satirical look at how race is handled in Hollywood.

While young Downey shares some of his father’s qualities, such as his eccentric and spontaneous nature. Earlier this year, RDJ again disguised as an Easter bunny to celebrate the party. And months later Downey Jr. dyed his hair blue to celebrate his son’s victory in the Little League Championship.

The spirit of Robert Downey Sr. is alive and well, it seems, and it feels like the premiere of this documentary (which is being acquired at the time of this writing) is cathartic for Jr. While his father may be gone, he’ll always have the memories, the doc, and the occasional moments like Telluride to help maintain that bond.

About Monty S. Maynard

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