Downey Jr. sheds superhero armor to face Duvall in 'The Judge'

Mon Oct 6, 2014 7:15pm EDT
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By Piya Sinha-Roy

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - At the beginning of his latest film "The Judge," Robert Downey Jr. could be mistaken for playing the arrogant yet charming Tony Stark, the billionaire alter-ego of superhero Iron Man.

But soon the braggadocious armor sheds away and the film centers on a fractured relationship and generational disconnect between a father, played by veteran actor Robert Duvall, and his misunderstood son.

"The Judge," out in U.S. theaters on Friday and distributed by Time Warner Inc's Warner Bros., sees two Hollywood stalwarts face off in an intimate drama that takes place in and out of the courtroom.

Downey, 49, plays Hank Palmer, a charismatic lawyer who enjoys bending the rule book and earns big bucks in the city, while Duvall, 83, plays a town judge in rural Indiana who is revered for his honesty and integrity.

When the Palmer family matriarch dies, Hank grudgingly returns home and tries to reconnect with his stubborn father as they become entangled in a murder mystery.

"I just love the divide that's between Joe Palmer and Hank Palmer, that there's been 20 years of misunderstanding," Downey said. "Hank just wants to be understood, but he really has to come to understand this great man."

Downey channels the confident persona he inhabits in Marvel's "Iron Man" franchise and as the fictional British detective in the "Sherlock Holmes" films, but slowly strips away the arrogance to reveal Hank's vulnerability.

"They're these two men from different generations who have come to some sort of peace with each other," Downey said.   Continued...

Cast member Robert Downey Jr. crosses his fingers as he poses with his wife and producer of the movie Susan Downey at the premiere of "The Judge" at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Beverly Hills, California October 1, 2014. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni