EXCLUSIVE: After festival premieres in Telluride, AFI and New York, the Chris Smith-directed documentary Sr. just started its run on Netflix. What began as a docu about Robert Downey Sr, the ’60s counterculture director of avant-garde films including Putney Swope and Greaser’s Palace, Sr. evolved into much more as the process stretched over three years due to the pandemic and the decline of the subject’s health.
Robert Downey Jr., who spurned Smith’s offer to make a docu about his life and career, became more of a central figure onscreen, along with producing with wife and Team Downey partner Susan Downey. On full display is all the mad wit that informed Downey Sr’s films (Paul Thomas Anderson considered him a formative influence and put Downey Sr. in Boogie Nights and Magnolia). Sr. became something you don’t see often: candor from two generations of a film family that got chewed up but managed to come out the other side intact, bonding and healing before Downey Sr. succumbed to Parkinson’s in July 2021 at age 85. Here, his Jr. describes what the journey means to him.
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