Robert Downey Jr. to join the lead actor race in ‘The Soloist?’

Posted by · 4:05 pm · September 6th, 2008

Robert Downey Jr. in The SoloistI’m hearing (not altogether surprising) rumblings that Robert Downey Jr.’s role in Joe Wright’s “The Soloist” is larger than Jamie Foxx’s homeless violinist Nathaniel Ayers and that he’ll be pushed as a leading actor contender by the good folks at Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks SKG.  Apparently this is coming from a place of beaming confidence from the studio and Downey Jr. is said to be fantastic in the film.

“The Soloist” is, of course, largely Steve Lopez’s story.  It is told from his perspective and is about, as the title of the book lets us know, “the redemptive power of music.”  That would be Lopez’s redemption as much as Ayers’, seeing as the LA Times columnist has picked up his guitar again as a result of his relationship with the man.  (Listen to Lopez discuss his interaction with Ayers and the process of committing that story to print here).

Of course, actors with star power have a say in these things.  I can’t imagine Paramount would want to put both of these guys in the same category, but I’m starting to get more of a “Resurrecting the Champ” vibe out of Foxx’s role than before.  Perhaps he’d be better suited in the supporting arena, but again, these are decisions that have yet to be finalized.

It goes without saying that Downey Jr. is having a hell of a come-back year.  I’m still having conversations with industry folks that think he has a shot at Oscar gold for his work in “Iron Man,” but perhaps Paramount can spin that goodwill into the Best Actor group think for “The Soloist.”

Downey Jr., DiCaprio, Rourke, Jenkins, Langella, Penn, Mortensen, Eastwood, Pitt, Sheen……it’s gettin’ crowded in here.  And Heath Ledger may have just seized the supporting prize.

More as it develops…

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10 responses so far

  • 1 9-06-2008 at 4:12 pm

    JEFF SNEIDER said...

    I had a convo with someone who thinks WB could push Ledger in the Best Actor category. I don’t believe it for a second cuz it just doesn’t make any sense and that category is crowded enough, but they made the argument that the screentime is there. Of course since TDK was 2 1/2 hrs then Ledger would appear for the same # of minutes that the lead in a 90 min. movie might be onscreen but still… Just mentioning it as a possibility, not one I think will actually happen. He’s a lock for supporting. Will Sheen and Langella both be pushed for leads? Don’t forget Will Smith. Seven Pounds is a huge wild card. I know next to nothing about it. Anyone?

  • 2 9-06-2008 at 4:26 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    The screen time is totally there, and it’s an idea we explored here once before. I’m not sure how I feel about it, but the case can certainly be made.

    And as of last I heard, Sheen and Langella will both be pushed as leads. But these things are fluid.

  • 3 9-06-2008 at 5:21 pm

    Ben said...

    I really think it would be hard to push Sheen supporting, aside from just the title he is billed first (according to the credits on the trailer) and if it follows the play he will have more screentime than Langella and be in virtually every scene. Actually I feel it might be an easier sell to push Langella supporting, but I don’t think that will happen and it is just a case of two clear leads.

  • 4 9-06-2008 at 5:38 pm

    Rob Scheer said...

    Does this open up the possibility of a Supporting nomination for Downey for “Tropic Thunder”?

  • 5 9-06-2008 at 9:23 pm

    BobMcBob said...

    Robert Downey Jr. winning (or even being nominated for) and Oscar for “Iron Man” is about as likely as him taking the role for a reason that has nothing to do with box office standing.

  • 6 9-07-2008 at 2:24 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Ben: Being the clear lead with more screen time didn’t stop Ethan Hawke ducking into Supporting to get out of Denzel Washington’s way in Training Day.

    That said, given that he’s unlikely to win in either category, Sheen may as well shoot for lead.

  • 7 9-07-2008 at 2:29 am

    Marvin said...

    I can’t wait to see what Wright does with this movie!

  • 8 9-08-2008 at 9:29 am

    Ivan said...

    For your consideration
    Robert Downey Jr. / Iron Man

  • 9 9-08-2008 at 2:44 pm

    Webster said...

    Having actually seen this movie a few weeks back at a test screening in Pasadena, it’s just not Oscar-caliber. Downey has far more screen time than Foxx, and the movie does a pretty job of avoiding obvious pandering to the subject, but it’s more of a crowd-pleaser than an Oscar-teaser.