The Oscar-nominated actor recently visited The Off-Camera Show With Sam Jones, where he frankly discussed transitioning out of the superhero life after playing a pivotal role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe since its inception in 2008.
"Realistically, to put it in a nutshell, I had an incredible 10-year run that was creatively satisfying, was very, very, very hard work and I dug very deep," he says. "But I’ve not been forced to explore the new frontier of what is my creative and personal life after this."
"It’s always good to get ahead of where you’re about to be," he adds. "If you put eyes on, 'Oh, that’s gonna be a big turn down there, spring of ’19. I better start psychically getting on top of that,' you know? 'Cause I don’t like the metaphoric k-hole. I don’t like folding up and molting and all that stuff, you know? And yet, it’s always in the transitions from one phase and the next phase where people fall apart."
Downey Jr. also discussed his priorities going forward, emphasizing that family comes first despite his world-famous career.
"Just as a matter of me wanting to be a fit father, husband and citizen, which, you know, roughly in that order, you gotta put eyes down the road and say, 'I’m being irresponsible if I don’t start seeing what is after that,'" he notes.
The leading man also touched upon how Iron Man and his own personality have melded over the last decade and the “dependency” that he feels developed for a time.
"It’s the closest thing I’ve ever come to being a trust-fund kid," he said. "Initially, by creating and associating and synergizing with Tony Stark and the Marvel Universe and being a good company man, but also being a little off-kilter and being creative and then getting into all these other partnerships, it was a time when …what is it like when they say, 'Owners of pets start looking like their pets?' …You can feel really buffeted and you can be really spun out by it."
In Avengers: Endgame, Downey Jr.'s character dies in the final battle against Thanos (Josh Brolin), perhaps one of the most poignant moments in the massive franchise.
During the interview, the 54-year-old actor also emphasized the distinct separation between himself and the projects he takes on -- and how difficult it can be.
"Here’s the thing, first you learn in theater arts, aesthetic distance," he states. "I am not this play I’m doing. I’m not a character in The Fantasticks. I’m not Will from Oklahoma, you know? Aesthetic distance. It’s job one. I’m not my work. I’m not what I did with that studio. I’m not that period of time that I spent playing this character."
"And it sucks because, you know, the kid in all of us wants to be like, 'No, it’s always gonna be summer camp and we’re all holding hands and singing Kumbaya, isn’t it?'" he concludes. "It’s like, 'No. No, snap out of it.'"