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Robert Downey Jr. in Dolittle

Some actors choose roles for a challenge. Others (let’s be honest) do it for a paycheck. But when it came to Robert Downey Jr.’s decision to take on his latest role as the titular doctor in Dolittle, all of his reasons started at home.

Dolittle is Robert Downey Jr.’s first big post-Avengers (or maybe not-so-post?) project, so he had to choose carefully. Luckily, he had his wife Susan -- an accomplished film producer, and the co-founder of their production company, Team Downey -- to help him come to a decision. In addition to raising two children together, the Downeys have collected quite a menagerie of animals over the years at their Malibu home. So, it stands to reason that he’d be on board for playing Dolittle’s famous veterinarian.

In an interview with Extra, the couple discussed the movie and RDJ explained that parallels from his own life helped him realize it was the right move:

I always go 'Why this movie, why now, why bother?' And then I, honestly, I looked out the windows and these alpacas are looking at me and our goats and our Oreo cows and our pigs, the kunekune pigs ... it just felt kind of synchronistic. And also, you know, we don't like to go too long without an extremely difficult project to do together, whether it's a movie or a kid.

Even though Dolittle was a bit of a no brainer for the couple, RDJ was open about the fact that it was still a bit of a challenge. He told Extra:

It wound up being a really kind of nice vibe. Very arduous, very long process, we learned a lot. And it's so nice now because all I care about is, when people see it, did they like it? And so today is the first day, and now we're starting to promote it. People are like 'Yeah, we're seeing it, we're liking it.' We're like 'Yes.' 'Cause we just want to be proud parents.

At the end of the day, RDJ has made it clear that Susan Downey helped steer the Dolittle ship. And for her part, she made it clear that her choices were rooted in their family. Here's how they answered when asked why this was the perfect film to make together.

Robert Downey Jr.: 'Cause she said so. ... I don't know, it turns out it was a good instinct you had, sweetheart.

Susan Downey: It was fun to pick something that our kids could see. 'Cause even though he's let our son see the Marvel movies, certain ones, they weren't able to see any of the movies that we've worked on. And so it was really fun to do something that [they could see]. I think there was a degree of difficulty too that I was excited about with the visual effects and creating worlds that even with something like Sherlock we didn't get to do.

The Downeys will be taking on another Sherlock adventure next. Dolittle hits theaters on January 17, 2020.

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