Ugh. The writing has been on the wall for a while now -- Deadline first hinted at it late last month -- but now it's official: Robert Downey Jr. has left Alfonso Cuarón's forever gestating "Gravity." It appears that scheduling, long cited to be the issue, just couldn't be worked out and the actor has had to move on. Admittedly, the part was a small one -- he would've featured only in the first act -- but it was seemingly a tailor made role, that of a motor mouthed astronaut alongside the female lead who has to urgently navigate a ship back home.
What this means for the project now remains unclear. It is already a difficult one, heavily reliant on CGI, with a fairly large budget (another issue that has kept the project stalled) and fronted by a female in an already tough-to-market sci-fi genre. It's a whole bag of things that audiences, at least en masse, don't respond well to and is difficult to market. The silver lining is that Sandra Bullock is still in negotiations for the film but we have to hope that the allure of acting alongside Robert Downey Jr., which certainly must've been a draw for the Oscar winner, wasn't big enough that his departure will extinguish her interest as well. It is a pretty unique leading role for an actress and we hope Bullock can stay aboard and keep the project alive. Really, she is one of the few actresses who can keep this thing moving and get it greenlit. And we suppose the rumor mill will now swirl with potential co-stars for the supporting role (do the right thing A-list actor with clout and help this thing stay alive).
Meanwhile, Robert Downey Jr. is circling a big screen version of "How To Talk To Girls." Based on the cutesy advice book written by nine-year-old Alec Greven, it's part of a handful of advice books by the young literary sensation that has made him a favorite of the morning talk show set. No word yet on the plot at this point but let us take a guess: Robert Downey Jr. will play a man looking for love who finds all the answers in a little advice book he finds at his nephew/niece's house. Soon he finds women are giving him another look, but more importantly, he learns that true love is out there for everyone. So there you go Hollywood, we just gave you the logline for a $100 million romcom right there. Please feel free to send us a check.
Ben Karlin ("The Daily Show") and Stu Zicherman ("Six Degrees") have penned an initial draft but it will be reworked into a Downey Jr. joint. Susan Downey is producing along with Shawn Levy under his 21 Laps shingle. This is likely a ways off as RDJ is still set to shoot "Oz: The Great And Powerful" next summer after he wraps "The Avengers" and of course, he's currently shooting "Sherlock Holmes 2."