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Setting The Tone: From Day One
Production on "Iron Man 2” began in Pasadena, California with Tony Stark testifying at a congressional Senate hearing. The filmmakers were thrilled to see Robert Downey Jr. return with his character's trademark swagger and biting wit.

"Robert always elevates the scene that is written on the page and makes it his own, but at the same time he keeps it tonally on point,” says D'Esposito. "He also has a magnetic set presence and gave a rousing introduction for his cast mates and director to kick off the production. It really put everyone at ease and set the tone for the collaborative, energized atmosphere that we love to have on set. On our first two days of production we shot the Senate hearing scene, which kicked things off in a big way with almost the entire cast working and Tony going up against a panel of Senators who are not pleased with his reluctance to cooperate with the government.”

"One of the main conflicts for Tony is not only with the United States government but with all of the militarized nations around the world,” says Feige. "They all want his technology and he doesn't want to give it to anybody and is very confident in the fact that he's the only one who can do it. As you would imagine, when someone has that kind of unwavering pride, it sometimes leads to a fall when they learn that they're not the only one out there who can pull it off.”

The Senate hearing was also energized by comedian Garry Shandling, whose cameo as Senator Stern included some hilarious back-and-forth banter with Downey. "For those of you who have never walked into a room and done an improv with Robert Downey Jr., let's just say – and I've never used this phrase before – he is vastly open,” laughs Shandling. "It was a blast to do. Both Robert and Jon have great energy and give you so much support, which only brings about better work.”

"I like to encourage a lot of improvisation on the set and Robert is very quick, unpredictable, and you have to put somebody in the cage with him who can really go toe to toe,” observes Favreau. "Garry is a personal friend and I knew he could hang in there with Robert and something explosive would happen if I put them in a scene together. A lot of what I enjoyed about the first film was the unpredictable quality some of the scenes had that in other movies of the same genre are a little bit more by the book. I knew they were going to cut loose and go a little crazy, but I also knew they would maintain the stakes and the reality at the same time.”

The director continues: "It was really fun and exciting for me to watch take after take and it was a great way to kick off the production. I was so relieved after seeing all the characters old and new working together. I felt like we immediately established the tone of the film.”

One dynamic that didn't need to be established on day one was the magnetic chemistry between Downey and Paltrow. "The secret weapon of the ‘Iron Man' franchise is the chemistry between Robert and Gwyneth,” says Feige. "When you give the script pages to them and they start rehearsing, you sort of tuck the pages away and just watch what they start doing. It's so honest and real. They stay on the page, they go off the page and then magic starts to happen, which is very emotional and very effective.”

The producer continues: "We put some wedges in between them to give them obstacles to overcome, the biggest one being the introduction of the Black Widow, who comes in under the guise of Natalie Rushman, Tony's new assistant. When that character is played by Scarlett Johansson, you know there's going to be a bit of a love triangle going on, but not the way you'd expect, and Pepper Potts doesn't react to it the way you'd anticipate, which makes it all the more interesting.”

For "Iron Man 2,” one of t

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