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The Casting Process
With screenwriters Fergus & Ostby continuing to refine the screenplay under Favreau's supervision, the filmmakers began the search for an actor who could capture the essence of the larger-than-life leading character, billionaire industrialist and consummate playboy Tony Stark.

"Tony Stark is a figure that is famous and has a lot of notoriety both positive and negative,” explains Favreau. "His face has been bannered in newspaper headlines many times before he ever becomes Iron Man. He's been involved with weapons manufacturing for years but suddenly realizes the ramifications of what he does for a living. It's like waking up one day and realizing you're a bad guy when you always thought you were one of the good guys. On the surface he seems to have it all, but Tony Stark is a very complex character who goes through an internal crisis in the film.”

In casting the role of Tony Stark, the filmmakers went against the grain in casting Academy Award®-nominated actor Robert Downey Jr. "Robert Downey Jr. wanted to play Tony Stark as much as I wanted him to play the character,” recalls Favreau. "He wasn't the most obvious choice from a studio's point-of-view, but Marvel gave me the freedom to cast the best person for the role. In Marvel movies, the superhero image is the big star and they've had a lot of success in the past when they've hired people who were strong, interesting actors, and relied on the name of the brand itself to be the rallying cry from a commercial standpoint. This allows you to attempt to make the best movie possible, and when Robert Downey Jr. came on board he became a true partner creatively.”

For Downey, the chance to play Tony Stark and slip into the red and gold armor was a childhood dream come true. "I'm an American. I love Marvel Comics and grew up reading Iron Man and Spider-Man,” affirms Downey. "I have always been drawn to Iron Man because he had amazing ingenuity and intelligence. Superheroes are great, but superheroes who manufacture weapons and then build a suit of armor that they wear and can fly around in makes for the ultimate ‘nerdgasm,'” he laughs.

On a more serious note, Downey continues: "He's someone who's conflicted for the right reasons, and who doesn't recognize his potential until he starts to live in accordance with a moral code; it's a great time-honored theme.” For producer Kevin Feige, Downey fit into Marvel Studios' formula of casting talented actors who truly embody the characters they play. "Tony Stark is a unique comic book character with several different layers,” explains Feige. "He is flawed, but also brilliant, funny, extremely talented and likable. When you talk about talented actors in Hollywood, you inevitably wind up talking about Robert Downey Jr., one of the best actors of his generation. I couldn't be more excited to have him in this film. When you combine Robert's acting ability with the adventure and spectacle of the comic book genre, you end up with something that is bigger than the sum of its parts.”

"Casting Robert just felt perfect,” adds screenwriter Fergus. "It's a slightly off-beat choice, but Marvel has a cool and visionary way of casting its films. When the casting is announced, people usually react with, ‘oh that's interesting,' and then it turns out to be more than interesting. It turns out to be perfect and people can't imagine anybody else in the role. Marvel's really adventurous like that and I think that audiences really appreciate it.”

For Downey, who was actively involved in the creative development of the film and script, the days of preproduction also included an intense regimen of weight training and martial arts in order to prepare him for the physical demands of playing the character.

"About a year ago I decided that I really want to put on some size, which isn't easy when you're

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