The reporter had been wandering around Robert Downey Jr.’s Malibu estate for 20 minutes now, admiring the artwork and the view and the obscenely expensive furniture with slack-jawed astonishment. Robert Downey Jr. supposed he should pity him—the poor fellow probably lived in the Valley.

When the interview finally began, the questions were so easy that Robert Downey Jr. became suspicious. Was the man who called every Thursday at exactly 11:30 trying to catch him off guard? The reporter praised his hair. He said he had a “George Clooney blue chin deal.” Would he, a handsome and distinguished gentleman, ever age out of superhero movies?

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“Well, hearing the cracking of my own bones on Iron Man 3, I finally came out of what can only be described as a five year flight of fancy where I thought, if Sherlock Holmes can do this, it means I can,” he said. The reporter nodded. “If Tony can jump from one part of a scaffold to the other and not bust his ankle, well then let’s do it two or three times and go to lunch. Looking back, I’m surprised and really embarrassed that some middle aged guy was thinking like that,” he added, noting the gleam in the reporter’s eye. Robert Downey Jr. relaxed. He had this under control.

But then the reporter asked about Mel Gibson. Robert Downey Jr. began to panic. Was he rambling? He was rambling, he thought, unable to stop the flow of words coming out of his mouth. The digital recorder started at him, its one red eye mocking his helplessness. “Marvel badly wants Iron Man 4 and you’ve said you aren’t doing it. How about the idea you’ll do that movie if Mel directs it?,” the reporter asked.

“Correct,” he said. Oh God, what had he done?

Robert Downey Jr. blacked out.

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