Upcoming Robert Downey Jr. Role Breaks a 40-Year-Old Trend

Robert Downey Jr. has an exciting project lined up.

Robert Downey Jr on SInging Detective and Oppenheimer

Fresh off winning his first Oscar for his role in Oppenheimer, Robert Downey Jr. is making huge changes in his career. Some of them break trends that he hasn’t broken in decades.

This year, Robert Downey Jr. made his return to the small screen after two decades, starring in Max’s adaptation of Viet Thanh Nguyen’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Sympathizer. However, the changes don’t end here. The actor, who has focused on films in the last few decades, will soon return to stage work.

The Guardian reports that Robert Downey Jr. is set to make his Broadway debut, 40 years after his last stage work. The former MCU actor is choosing another Pulitzer Prize-winning project, this time a play by Ayad Akhtar called McNeal. Downey Jr. will be playing the lead actor, and the play will be performed at the Lincoln Center Theater in New York for a limited run.

The play’s official synopsis reads: “Good writers borrow, great writers steal. Jacob McNeal is a great writer, one of our greatest, and a perpetual candidate for the Nobel Prize in Literature. But McNeal also has an estranged son, a new novel, old axes to grind and an unhealthy fascination with Artificial Intelligence. Pulitzer Prize-winner Ayad Akhtar’s new play is a startling and wickedly smart examination of the inescapable humanity – and increasing inhumanity – of the stories we tell.”

Tony winner Bartlett Sher (who previously staged 2008’s South Pacific and 2018’s To Kill a Mockingbird) will direct the play. The play is set to run from September to November and, so far, Downey is the only actor attached to the project. This is an exciting career move for Robert Downey Jr., who was last on stage in 1983 for off-Broadway production American Passion alongside Jane Krakowski. “It’s been 40 years since I was last on ‘the boards’, but hopefully I’ll knock the dust off quick,” the Academy Award-winning actor said in a statement.

Robert Downey Jr in The Sympathizer

Robert Downey Jr.’s Last Career Moves Paid Off

Robert Downey Jr. has been in the spotlight since the ’80s. He made his acting debut in his father’s film, Pound in 1970, when he was only five years old. His acting credits include films like 1987’s Less Than Zero, 1989’s True Believer, and 1992’s Chaplin, the latter resulting in his first Academy Award nomination, and remaining one of the most critically acclaimed films of his career.

The actor dealt with a series of legal issues and substance abuse, which had a huge impact on his career, as well. Downey Jr. found new success once he was cast as Tony Stark in Marvel’s Iron Man, and got his second Academy Award nomination for 2008’s satirical comedy Tropic Thunder. He spent a decade playing Stark, with his last appearance being in the universally acclaimed 2019’s Avengers: Endgame. Since then, he starred in Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer, which culminated with him winning his first Oscar.

The Sympathizer is Robert Downey Jr’s first return to the small screen since the legal comedy series Ally McBeal. In the Max series, he plays four different characters, which might lead to him being recognized at the Primetime Emmys. Now, he is also making his return to the stage after four decades for his Broadway debut, which will push the actor to explore a different set of skills that might lead to even more awards.

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