Robert Downey Jr. On How Netflix's Sweet Tooth Will Be Different From The Comics

gus human deer hybrid in netflix's sweet tooth
(Image credit: netflix press)

Of all the comic book adaptations that Robert Downey Jr. could have lent his time and name recognition to in the aftermath of Avengers Endgame, Netflix's serialized take on Jeff Lemire's DC/Vertigo series Sweet Tooth will likely always feel like a offbeat pick for the mega-celeb to get behind with wife and producer partner Susan Downey. But by all means, it looks like a match made in heaven, with the Downey's serving as executive producers alongside creator and showrunner Jim Mickle (Hap and Leonard). It also looks like a slightly less disturbing version of the source material, and that was apparently an intentional choice.

Netflix released a new behind-the-scenes video gearing fans up for Sweet Tooth's June 2021 premiere, showing footage intercut with quick talking-head segments with Jim Mickle, Jeff Lemire and the paired-up Robert Downey Jr. and Susan Downey. Not only does the video serve as a solid primer for what to expect going into Season 1, but the Downeys lay out the main overall changes that were made in bringing Sweet Tooth from the page to the screen.

ROBERT: The graphic novels were a little darker, a bit more foreboding.SUSAN: We felt we could really hold onto the themes but make it a more enjoyable place.

Which isn't to say Jeff Lemire's original Sweet Tooth comic run didn't have a sense of innocence and optimism coursing through it and the human-deer hybrid Gus' story. But so much of the story outside of Gus' immediate scope was dark as all hell, and with the horror-friendly Jim Mickle as the creative force, I'd legitimately wondered if Netflix's first trailer for the series was setting viewers up for a long and unsettling fall by portraying things with more adventurous danger than haunting evil. Turns out that's probably not going to be the case, with the TV series aiming for some lighter touches with Christian Convery's Gus and Nonso Anozie's Jepperd, though it doesn't sound like they'll be skimping on major story beats.

With Robert Downey Jr. having gone from being an edgy young actor to a sobered-up icon for all ages, to the point where he had a blast getting slimed at the Nickelodeon's Kids Choice Awards this year, it does make sense that he would put the Team Downey stamp on quirky fare like Sweet Tooth. (Even if it's admittedly hard for me to mentally bypass the connection between this show's animal-human hybrids and the talking beasts of RDJ's Dolittle.) As he explained in the video, he was taken aback by the "emotional breadth" of Jeff Lemire's storytelling, and Susan Downey shared that the character of Gus was their metaphorical true north when developing Sweet Tooth, with his optimism as a shining beacon throughout the process. It does help that Christian Convery looks so damned adorable as Gus.

Robert Downey Jr. and Susan Downey also talked about seeing early footage and how they hope Sweet Tooth will be experienced by viewers:

ROBERT: As we're starting to see dailies and stuff, I'm like, 'This is seamless.' Like the novel continued on.SUSAN: I just hope people have the experience that we get to have with our kids where we cuddle up on the couch and all watch it together.

You can check out the video below, and feel free to also watch it while cuddling with your family on the couch.

With Robert Downey Jr.'s return to the MCU likely not happening outside of Iron Man's animated form, Sweet Tooth will have to have to sate your swee... It will have to sate your need for more RDJ comic book projects. Along with other big premieres hitting the 2021 Summer TV season, be sure to check Sweet Tooth out when it hits Netflix on Friday, June 4, at 3:01 a.m.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.