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Robert Downey Jr almost passed out during his first MCU screen test

As the lead of the Iron Man cast, Robert Downey Jr spent a decade appearing in MCU movies, but his first Tony Stark screen test filled him with anxiety.

Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark in Iron Man

It’s impossible to overstate the importance of Robert Downey Jr when it comes to the rise of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Without him in place as one of the best MCU characters, Tony Stark, we almost certainly wouldn’t be sat here now in an entertainment world dominated by Marvel movies and Marvel series.

Robert Downey Jr brings real swagger and confidence to Iron Man, but he didn’t have that self-assured vibe back when he was first screen-testing for his role in the MCU movies as the protagonist of the Iron Man cast.

Back in 2010, he explained to Playboy magazine (via Deadline) that his anxiety almost got the better of him during the high-stakes screen test, to the point that he very nearly passed out.

“I prepared for the screen test so feverishly that I literally made it impossible for anybody to do a better job. I had never worked on something that way before. I was so familiar with six or nine pages of dialogue, I had thought of every possible scenario. At a certain point during the screen test I was so overwhelmed with anxiety about the opportunity that I almost passed out.”

Downey Jr said that his level of preparation carried him through the moment and, when he watched the recording back, he was surprised to see that he kept his anxiety hidden, despite how huge it felt at the time.

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He added: “I watched it later, and that moment came, fluttered and wasn’t even noticeable. But to me it was this stretched-out moment of what keeps people from doing theater for 30 years — just an unadulterated fear of failure. I had prepped myself to the point where I was able to tumble over in that wave and not be dashed by it.”

We’re certainly glad that Downey Jr ended up in the role of Tony Stark, and we’re thankful for the amazing moments he gave us across the best movies in the franchise. A decade later, he made us all cry just by clicking his fingers, and that’s very special.

But Downey Jr’s Marvel involvement was almost very different as he auditioned for the best Marvel villain before Iron Man. And if you’re even more devoted to RDJ than us, there’s a disgusting MCU keepsake for sale on eBay.

We’ve got all of the information you need about the new movies coming to the MCU, including The Marvels release date and the Captain America 4 release date. Elsewhere, we’ve explained that the MCU must learn this big lesson from the Fast and Furious movies.