How Robert Downey Jr. Broke His Ankle Making Iron Man 3, According To Guy Pearce

Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark in Iron Man 3.

Robert Downey Jr. gave over a decade of his life to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and, while that journey was relatively smooth, it wasn’t without its share of pitfalls. Guy Pearce, who co-starred alongside Downey in Iron Man 3, can remember when the actor injured himself during production. Downey ultimately healed up but, based on Pearce’s description, it seemed like a pretty scary ordeal in the moment:

Robert broke his ankle in the middle of that film, because he had to do a stunt where he jumped from one platform down to another platform and be on a cable. They wanted to rehearse it and he said, ‘I don’t need to rehearse it.’ And he jumped and the guy holding the cable wasn’t sort of ready or something and he landed hard and he broke his ankle. So the film sort of shut down for like 5 or 6 weeks.

Guy Pearce recalled the situation during a recent interview with GQ. The specific scene he appears to be referring to takes place during Iron Man 3’s third act. The exact sequence is the climactic battle between Tony Stark -- who is hastily donning various suits of armor -- and Pearce’s Extremis-infused Aldrich Killian.

At one point, Stark is forced to jump from a platform and into an Iron Man suit in midair. The finished scene appears to have been executed as planned. However, it’s not hard to believe that there was still a bit of risk involved in having Robert Downey Jr. actually perform the sunt.

Marvel Studios has proven to be very protective of their talent when it comes to stunt work, which is completely understandable since they wouldn’t want to lose stars to injury. The studio also has a strong team of stunt actors who are more than willing to put themselves through the wringer for their counterparts.

Nevertheless, some Marvel actors actually welcome the opportunity to do their own stunts. Scarlet Witch actress Elizabeth Olsen has been open about how much she enjoys performing wire work when permitted. Similarly, Spider-Man star Tom Holland almost always seems to be up for scaling a building or doing a quick flip.

Outside of the MCU, there’s a select group of actors also prefer to perform their own stunts. The most well-known actor to do this is arguably the ageless Tom Cruise. Just recently, the 57-year-old actor performed some treacherous stunts for the opening scene of Mission Impossible 7, all in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak.

It’s probably a safe bet that Robert Downey Jr.’s days of doing stunt work are over for the time being, seeing as Tony Stark is now dead. Still, anyone who wants to relive Stark’s battle with Aldrich Killian can stream Iron Man 3 on Disney+ today.

Erik Swann
Senior Content Producer

Erik Swann is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend. He began working with the publication in 2020 when he was hired as Weekend Editor. Today, he continues to write, edit and handle social media responsibilities over the weekend. On weekdays, he also writes TV and movie-related news and helps out with editing and social media as needed. He graduated from the University of Maryland, where he received a degree in Broadcast Journalism. After shifting into multi-platform journalism, he started working as a freelance writer and editor before joining CB. Covers superheroes, sci-fi, comedy, and almost anything else in film and TV. He eats more pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.