Interview with Susan Downey and Robert Downey Jr. For the New Dolittle Movie

 In the world of male dominating film making, it’s always refreshing to see a woman in charge. I headed to the lot of Universal Studios with Dolittle, the new movie on my mind. Producer Susan Downey sat down with at Universal Studios to give an insight on producing, “Team Downey,” her leading man, and all things Dolittle.

Thank you Universal Pictures for inviting me to interview Susan Downey and Robert Downey Jr. All opinions on my own.

Susan’s first question, addressed what everyone was wondering. How does she manage to keep her inspiration flowing, with men seemingly in charge of everything?

Susan explained how she grew up in front of the camera as a hobby, but her interest was actually with what the people around her were doing. She attended the prestigious University of Southern California for film.

When she attended, there were 50 students in her class, only 3 other of which were women. In her junior year, her school eventually opened up 50 more spots, totaling 100 students… but yet, only totaling 8 women. However, Susan continues to keep tabs. When recently speaking to the Dean of USC; Dean Daly (SP) she confirmed times are changing, and the students are now graduating with classes that have a 50-50 gender ratio. It was music to the ears of all the women who sat at the roundtable. 

Susan Downey, “So part of my theory is you put your nose down and you do the work. That said, I also personally think women are very well-equipped to do this job. I think that taking on more things only makes us better and stronger and more efficient and I think that the multitasking that’s required to be a producer is certainly for me perfectly suited, but most women and working mothers I know would be very good at it. And then I think the key is ultimately your dealing with personalities and people. And I think you have to remember that.”


Dr. John Dolittle lives in solitude behind the high walls of his lush manor in 19th-century England. His only companionship comes from an array of exotic animals that he speaks to on a daily basis. But when young Queen Victoria becomes gravely ill, the eccentric doctor and his furry friends embark on an epic adventure to a mythical island to find the cure.

In regards to Dolittle, Susan Downey really created a world of her own with the film. She wanted to create striking visualizations, while still staying true to the Hugh Lofting books themselves.

This project really differs from her other work, as the visuals required in this film, took an extensive amount of work; it’s almost like shooting two films. The layers that went into the film, we’re imagined as time went, in Susans words, “It [was] not a paint by numbers.” All the animals in the film are CGI, with the exception of horses. In the middle of a conversation of how realistic the parrot was, in came Robert Downey Jr.

The relationship between the two became immediately electric, it is no wonder they worked so well together. Their work relationship was built on respect, but there are no definitive roles. We can only expect more spectacular work coming from what is now known as “Team Downey”, and trust, there will be no disappointments.

Susan Downey, “The biggest challenge on this film was probably from a technical aspect, to be honest. I think that it always had the heart and the emotion that you would want in the story and there was this desire to have this incredible spectacle, whether it was the worlds we were creating, you know, when they went on this adventure or the animals. And even though both Robert and I have dealt with visual effects heavy movies in the past whether it was Sherlock or the Marvel movies, this was a whole other level because you are essentially shooting a live action movie and then you’re in postproduction creating an animated movie.”

To my surprise, Robert Downey Jr. showed up to chime and sit to chat! (totally unexpected, because I was only scheduled to interview Susan.)

Question: I have to say the movie is hilarious. There’s a lot of comedy with the characters. Everybody has a really defined, clear character. Was any of the improvised? You know, did you guys go strictly by the script or did you actually–

Robert Downey Jr.: Craig can do whatever he wants because he can do no wrong. The rest of us would have our moments, but–and we like working on things where we really are redrafting things. If you have a chance to take another shot at something or you what we need is this and will go back and grab it. It’s controlled chaos.

(from left) Lord Thomas Badgley (Jim Broadbent), Dr. Blair Müdfly (Michael Sheen), Tommy Stubbins (Harry Collett), Dr. John Dolittle (Robert Downey Jr.), dog Jip (back to camera, Tom Holland) and Lady Rose (Carmel Laniado) in “Dolittle,” directed by Stephen Gaghan.

“Team Downey,” also talked about their upcoming projects.

About Team Downey

Team Downey is an entertainment company founded by Robert Downey Jr. and Susan Downey that produces film, television and digital properties.

Team Downey is currently in post-production on Universal’s “Dolittle,” which is set to release on January, 17, 2020. “Dolittle” features an all-star cast with Downey Jr. in the title role. Team Downey is in various stages of development on several other anticipated feature projects including “A Head Full of Ghosts” with Osgood Perkins attached to write and direct. Additionally, they have partnered with Annapurna Pictures on an untitled feature based on Gimlet Media’s “Reply All” podcast episode “Man of the People,” with Richard Linklater writing and directing. On the television side, Team Downey is producing HBO’s “Perry Mason” starring Matthew Rhys, with episodes directed by Tim Van Patten and Denize Gamze Ergüven, and written by Rolin Jones and Ron Fitzgerald. Team Downey is also in post-production on the pilot “Sweet Tooth” for Warner Bros TV, as well as an eight-episode docuseries entitled “Age of AI” for YouTube Originals.

Don’t miss #Dolittle in theaters Friday January 17th!

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