Logan Hill's excellent New York Magazine profile of Robert Downey, Jr – occasioned by his rather stunning performance in Shane Black's Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang – revolves around the concept of potential. There are, really, nothing but "what ifs" when it comes to Downey - as in, as Hill puts it, "If Clinton had kept his nose clean, we think, maybe we wouldn’t have had to endure Bush. If Downey’d sobered up, the logic goes, maybe we wouldn’t have had to endure Matthew McConaughey." Post-Chaplin, people like to say, Downey could have done anything; instead, he did a bunch of drugs and eventually did some time. Put it this way: when you've got an Oscar nomination at 28, and by 36 the hottest comeback gambit you can find is as a love interest on Ally McBeal, something's very wrong.  Though Downey released a (truly awful) record last year called The Futurist, Hill describes the actor as a Cubist: his conciousness seems, at all times, fractured and multiplistic; there is, essentially, a problem there that has nothing to do with drugs.

"There’s all those guys that got those action movies I was never cast in and now half of them own half of Idaho,” he says. "And some people are not required to have their shit together at all. Do the right thing and you’ll get far in this twisted industry? I could mention half a dozen people who’re really in the fucking barrel." His problem, he seems to think, was timing. "I get it, but at some point at the end of the nineties, studios and insurance companies suddenly started using your private persona to get you a sobriety coach and five hours of fucking Gestalt therapy a week—or we don’t pay you.” 

It's almost too bad – Downey is great in Kiss Kiss, but one wonders if he'll ever again be able to summon the kind of performance he delivered (whilst likely cracked out of his gourd) in James Toback's Two Girls and a Guy. One thing that I simply I can't stress enough: we must keep him from making any more records. There's a song on the end credits of Kiss, which Downey sings, and to which he contributed lyrics, that must be the most frightening example of rehab rock to ever make it into a mainstream film.
tags drama