Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: I’m hearing scheduling problems have made Robert Downey Jr. suddenly doubtful for Gravity, the Alfonso Cuaron-directed Warner Bros space film that weathered a bunch of setbacks before finding its footing when it landed Sandra Bullock for the lead female role. Now, Warner Bros is denying Downey will exit, despite what I’m hearing. The studio is saying they expect to work out the scheduling problems, and executives certainly have access to Downey at the moment because he’s junketing the Todd Phillips-directed Due Date. I’m also hearing that Bullock is among those lobbying him to stay. A Downey exit is a blow: just wait until you see what he brings to Due Date. But it’s not necessarily fatal, because he was playing a supporting part.

The majority of the 3D film scripted by Cuaron and his son Jonas is definitely carried by the actress in a manner comparable to Tom Hanks’s solo performance in Cast Away. The film’s heroine is a space station team member hellbent on finding her way back to earth and her daughter, after the station is destroyed by a debris field from an exploded asteroid. A big fan of Cuaron, Downey signed on early to play her co-pilot and the only other survivor of the asteroid mishap; both happened to be away in a space ship when the blast hit. Downey was juggling about three weeks of work around his other considerable commitments. First, he was going to shoot Gravity and then start Sherlock Holmes 2. Uncertainty over the actress changed that, and he was going to start Sherlock Holmes 2, break to do Gravity, and then return to England. But these delays have taken a toll for Downey, who needs to focus soon on The Avengers, and then Iron Man 3. I will tell you more when I have it.

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