Emmanuel Itier: In the comics, Justin Hammer is like a decrepit old guy. Now you’re making him way younger.
EI: How do you describe his role in the movie? What is Justin Hammer doing in the Iron Man universe this time around?
SR: Justin Hammer is like a rival to Tony Stark. He’s an arms dealer, and that’s basically the deal. He’s here to take down Tony Stark.
EI: Have you had fun with this Iron Man thing? Do you have fun with the experience?
SR: Yes, I had a great time with it. It is sort of similar to Charlie’s Angels in the experience of it, but it’s a lot like independent film because of Jon Favreau and Justin Theroux, and these actors are really amazing.
EI: You’re involved with that character with the universe that the people in the streets are going to ask you more and more — it is a pop culture of these people.
SR: Yeah, it’s part of the deal when you’re an actor. That’s what happens.
EI: Are they doing an action figure of Justin Hammer?
SR: Yes, indeed. We’ll see how it looks — little glasses and stuff. That would be weird and cool.
EI: I know this is for Iron Man, but since I have you here, I’d really like to ask you: Moon is doing so well, critically speaking, but so few people have had an actual chance to see it. What’s your take of that as an actor?
SR: Actually, it’s doing really well. It’s been around for a while now. They’ve expanded it to a lot of cities and it exceeded my expectations.
EI: Do you have any idea if they’re going internationally?
SR: It’s in London now, and I think some other places.
EI: Mexico…do you have any idea?
SR: That’s a good question. I don’t know. I would hope. I think it will, probably.
EI: How frustrating that might be that you do a movie that is critically acclaimed and people are embracing it, and the studio and the distributor don’t have the strength to put it in more markets?
SR: It can be very frustrating. A movie like Snow Angels, for example — that was frustrating. We worked very hard on that, and not a lot of people saw it. When something like Moon gets seen by a lot of people, it’s very exciting…
EI: Something like Iron Man 2 really helps elevate your profile internationally, and more distributors want to pick up your work.
SR: I think so. I think that’s the idea, but it’s also a cool movie, Iron Man.
EI: Can you talk about what it was like working with Robert [Downey, Jr.] on this film?
SR: It’s great! He’s a great sparring partner. It’s like Ali and Frazier. It’s fun to battle out with a great actor.
EI: He does a lot of improvisation on the set.
SR: Absolutely, and I do too. We had a lot of fun.
EI: Is it standard to work in big movies like Iron Man 2 with a lot of special effects, but at the same time you have this independent feel to it because of Jon and because of everybody else involved, or is it rare?
SR: It is rare. I think it’s because of Jon Favreau and because of the actors involved. Jon and I worked on a movie called Made – he directed it. He comes from that independent film improvisation, and that’s how he works. It’s a fun way to work. It’s very actor-friendly. We had a great time developing the character, and the writer, Justin Theroux, really was malleable with the text and everything.
EI: Were you familiar with this universe before joining in?
SR: Yeah, I loved the first film, so I was very excited about this.
EI: Did you read the comics when you were…
SR: Yeah, I had a suitcase full of comics.
EI: Any top priorities?
SR: Conan, The Incredible Hulk, and Swamp Thing.
EI: Could you talk about how Jon is as a director on set…?
SR: He’s great! The thing with Jon is that he wants us to react realistically to the imaginary circumstances. He wants us to be truthful and really discover what that event is about in a very real way, no matter what the circumstance is. He wants it to be truthful, and I think that’s an important thing about the reinvention of the comic book film — the superhero films that are being made now.
EI: Does he give massive notes on your character, or does he let you bring something to it?
SR: He lets you bring your own thing to it, but then he adds to that as well, so it’s like a building effect.
EI: How different was Justin Hammer when you began working with him and when you wrapped the shoot?
SR: He morphed into something that we didn’t know he was going to, and it’s still developing and it will be in the editing room. I don’t know how he’s going to turn out.
EI: Do you like watching this process closely as the movie becomes a real movie after you shoot and the editing? Do you like to be hands-on with this?
SR: No, I just want to go have a drink. [Laughs]
EI: What did you think of the footage…?
SR: I thought it was stellar. I thought it was an incredibly sexy trailer. I was really blown away.
EI: Is it also your first time at Comic-Con?
SR: It is my first time. I’ve never come to Comic-Con before. It was really something to see that trailer with all those people.
EI: The 6,000 people in the audience?!
SR: Yeah, I think it’s like the Star Trek Convention that I went to as a kid or something comparable. It’s like a rock concert.
EI: You play an astronaut in the movie Moon that just came out. What a different role!
SR: I watched the documentary that Ron Howard produced about the astronauts, and I read The Right Stuff and stuff like that, so I was excited to play an astronaut.
EI: How was it to dress like an astronaut?
SR: That’s really cool, and also like in movies like Alien and stuff. It was very cool. It’s very exciting.
EI: What do you think about science-fiction?
SR: I love science fiction — Blade Runner, Outland, Silent Running, Solaris…
Marvel/Paramount Pictures 'Iron Man 2' is scheduled to be released in May 2010.