The actor received the Maltin Modern Master Award at the 2024 Santa Barbara Film Festival on Friday
Speaking with Maltin Modern Master Award namesake Leonard Maltin at the 2024 Santa Barbara Film Festival on Friday, the 58-year-old Oscar nominee revealed that he and the late O'Neal — who died in December at age 82 — had an eye-opening conversation while making Chances Are.
After having shown what he called "the dark side of Hollywood" in 1987's Less Than Zero, Downey Jr. detailed one specific memory from Chances Are two years later.
"We were in Washington, D.C. I met some friends, went out back at the hotel, we ordered some champagne," Downey Jr. said of his first day of rehearsals.
"One thing led to another, and then the read-through was at 11:00 a.m. and it was about 2:45 p.m. and I was just sleeping it off and the door came off the hinges and it was Ryan O'Neal. And it was like, 'I'm here telling you, you're f------ up. Oh my God, you're f------ up.' And I was like, 'Wow. People seem pretty uptight,' " he said. "Not that I knew I was late, but it was a bit of a warning sign there."
As Downey Jr. shared, he loved "shooting the movie," but questioned why after Less Than Zero he was making what he at the time considered a "dumb a-- romantic comedy."
"Because that's what people want to see you do. We don't want to see you dying in Palm Springs and bumming everybody up. I was like, 'Oh, okay. Don't worry.' [I'll] wake up on time for the next read through. Don't worry about it. I'll just start earlier,' " he recalled saying.
As previously reported, Downey Jr. accepted his latest award on Friday while being celebrated with speeches from friends Rob Lowe and Oppenheimer costar Cillian Murphy. The award, named after Maltin, was first created in 1995 “to honor an individual who has enriched our culture through accomplishments in the motion picture industry," per the festival.
After describing Lowe as "someone who has demonstrated so much to me" and Murphy as "a f------ force of nature," Downey Jr. made sure to wrap up his speech with a message for his wife, Susan Downey.
"And as always, I will never finish any thank you, even though she's probably just getting ready to put the kids to bed soon, without thanking my dearest associate, Susan Downey," he concluded.
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Downey Jr.’s list of upcoming projects includes the HBO miniseries The Sympathizer. He's up for best supporting actor at the Academy Awards on March 10, thanks to his role in the latest Christopher Nolan blockbuster.
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