Robert Downey Jr. covers Esquire US May 2012. In the interview, the 47-year-old Avengers star sits down for a chat with the magazine and dishes on the advice that changed his life, Iron Man, addiction, directing, but also on being a hero and a father, and his new son.

Robert Downey Jr. covers Esquire US May 2012. The 47-year-old Avengers star sits down for a chat with the magazine and dishes on the advice that changed his life, Iron Man, LeBron, addiction, directing, but also on being a hero and a father, and his new son.
"Three weeks ago, we had a bun in the oven, and we were about to have a kid. There was all this trepidation, all this projection, all this anticipation and goodwill and a good vibe about it. But what you're squeezing to the side — or what's in the glove box — is these thousands of forms of fear. And then he was born and they've all just kind of scattered now. It seems like he's always been here," the actor says.

On being a father, Downey confesses that, "I guess here's what's come to me in the last three weeks: That anticipation and fear are going to come back. Am I going to know what to do with them? Does any new parent, even if you're not a first-time parent, ever really know what to do? Only thing you have to do, the only requirement, if you can hack it, is to not transfer your own discomfort in the moment to this fresh soul, right? ... You got to be mindful. I don't want to be so confident in myself. It's that balance between being relaxed enough to not be communicating anxiety and present enough to not be creating the very thing that you were anxious about by being so relaxed — because I've seen that parenting style, too."

Robert Downey Jr. Covers Esquire US May 2012

Robert Downey Jr. Covers Esquire US May 2012 Robert Downey Jr. Covers Esquire US May 2012

Asked whether he would like to be a hero, Downey admits in the interview with Esquire that, "Do I want to be a hero to my son? No. I would like to be a very real human being. That's hard enough. Every dad casts a shadow, you know? And that shadow is you're disappointed, you're resentful, or you feel so supported and loved you don't understand why life is so hard anyway — or, you know, it's so long and so dark that you can never step out of it, so you might as well not even try. Right? So. So hero to me is not applicable to the human experience. I think that we all do heroic things, but hero is not a noun, it's a verb."

On directing, the actor says that, "Looking back, the best thing on my dad's side was that he never capitulated. There was a point when he could have become this very mainstream, successful, big-house-in-Brentwood-type guy, and every instinct in him cried out to not do it. Clearly, a different generation and a different path for me. But there's still this part of my dad that lives in me, particularly as I'm starting to consider directing. Moving forward, there's this sense that if you capitulate to try to conform the seed of an idea you have that excites you, then it's just never going to stop."

Speaking about his wife, Susan, Downey recalls that, "If I picked for you the ten worst moments of my life, they were probably the ten most defining moments of my life. Whether they're that complete rejection by a girl that doesn't even know you're crazy about her, and you are distracted riding your bike to school, and just as you look over at her, you take a complete ass-over flip into a shrub. And the girl just looks at you and keeps on walking with an expression that says, 'Who is that schmuck?' And that's every bit as significant to me as the moment I met Susan, in a rehearsal space with Halle Berry in Montreal ten years ago, and thought, Wow, she's pretty damn cute for a boss."

Robert Downey Jr. Covers Esquire US May 2012

Robert Downey Jr. Covers Esquire US May 2012 Robert Downey Jr. Covers Esquire US May 2012

On addiction, Downey told Esquire that, "A link between addiction and creativity? Horses**t. No, I never told myself that lie. I'm not saying that the correctly timed intervention here and there is blah blah blah — look, it's valiant to go waste days, weeks, months, and years trying to fish someone you care about out of their own abyss. But if your intuition asks, Is this a big O.K. Corral ego trip on the part of the people who are going to say, 'All right, we're going to go in and handle this?' Because you're not. You're not going to handle s**t. No amount of effort is going to nudge somebody out of a situation that they deem is hopeless. And people sense when there's an ego trip involved, when there's a "I'm here to save your life!" It's horses**t. It's horses**t. I hate it. That's recovery vulturism."

As for his role in the comic book adaptation 'Iron Man', the actor says that, "Yeah, I think Iron Man wound up being the first time I screen-tested since Chaplin. As far as I was concerned, it was destiny. Now, I can't tell you how many people are sitting around with the cold, hard evidence that it wasn't. I just wasn't going to let lack of perseverance, lack of preparation, or lack of prayer get in the way. I just went crazy — in a good way. And suddenly it occurred to me, Oh my God, Stan Lee might not know this, but everything he created has all been leading to this moment. It's me. Then I thought, Hold on a second, dude, is this just some sort of neurotic personality meltdown happening here? And then I thought, Nah, that feels different."

Photos courtesy of Esquire