His film, Hangover, went on to become a sleeper hit around the world. Now, director Todd Phillips is back with Due Date, which stars Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis.
The two characters find themselves stuck on a road trip, which after a series of unforeseen incidents turns out to be life changing. Downey, who was last seen in Iron Man 2, plays Peter Highman, an expectant first-time father whose wife’s due date is less than a week away. During his journey home to be by his wife’s side, Highman encounters an aspiring actor called Ethan Tremblay, played by Zach Galifianakis.
Accepting the fact that Zach’s character is the center of the film, Robert says, “The person who you’re seeing him through is Peter. Todd told me there is a lot of hostility and fear between the two characters. My character’s attitude and his anger are a way of covering that fear.”
The two characters are usually happy go lucky, according to Robert, but “just love getting crabby together.” He adds, “I always feel like I’m playing an aspect of the director, particularly when he’s an auteur. To me, it’s a way of almost making him a proud parent. Though I think it was the most healing project I’ve ever worked on. Todd is confident, thoughtful and spontaneous.”
When asked whether it was refreshing to play a character who had not been watered down but had so many real, yet repellant moments in their arc, he says, “Absolutely, and I don’t know why, but it was an invitation to me to get in touch with everything that annoys me about everyone, and all the fear I have about everything that everybody can relate to.
Talking about his style of acting, Robert insists he is “not a method guy.” “I just want to be part of a good movie, and I can’t stand being surrounded by morons. I feel that this is the second greatest story ever told.” The first being? “Oh, come on! The Bible,” he says.
Was it hard taking a serious shot with Zach, who has been known for his hilarious comic timing in Hangover? “Let me put it this way. I’m 85 times more professional than Zach (laughs). I was hoping that we’d have some good gag reels, so maybe I’d chuckle a little bit more. He might not actually know how funny he is sometimes, too. Doing press talks, it takes Zach 45 years to answer one question, when he’s trying to think about what the answer is, and then he stutters and then he judges himself and then starts over.”
Robert, who has been seen in films like Iron Man and Sherlock Holmes in the recent past, finds it hard to answer questions directly. So when asked if he could describe himself in one sentence, he says, “Would one word do? Then I would probably say ‘Witty’! One sentence is too long to describe me!” Just to explain to us how much he is a performer, he made it a point to say, “I have been an actor from the age of five and really never ever have I thought of a career besides acting. If not an actor I would have been un-employed!