Robert Downey Jr. quoted criticism from 36 years ago in his Critics Choice Speech

Robert Downey Jr is cleaning up this award season as Best Supporting Actor in Oppenheimer. I really liked the movie and think he did a great job as Louis Strauss. (I do hope that Ryan Gosling gets some recognition for Ken, though!) RDJ won again during Sunday night’s Critics Choice Awards. During his acceptance speech, he decided to quote some of the more creative criticism he’s received throughout the years. He even went back 36 years to quote the late Michael Wilmington’s March 1988 review of his performance in Johnny Be Good, in which Wilmington said he sounded “like Pee-wee Herman emerging from a coma.”

Robert Downey Jr. won a Critics Choice Award for best supporting actor in “Oppenheimer” on Sunday. He took the opportunity to remind the critics who voted for him that they haven’t always loved his work.

“The Critics Choice Association, they’ve given me such beautiful feedback, really just so many great moments,” Downey Jr. said at the start of his acceptance speech. “And some of it’s so poetic, I just want to share some of their thoughts with you over the years.”

He went on to quote several unflattering critiques he’s received throughout his career, starting with one review Downey Jr. described as haiku: “sloppy, messy and lazy.”

Another critique he cited compared his performance in an unnamed project to “Pee Wee Herman emerging from a coma.” Downey Jr. also quoted a British critic who once called him “a puzzling waste of talent.”

The final review “lingered” with him, Downey Jr. said, when a critic wrote that he was as “amusing as a bedlocked fart.”

While Downey Jr. didn’t specify which performances he received such colorful feedback on, he appeared to enjoy himself as he quoted each review. As did the audience, who laughed along with him.

[From CNN]

This isn’t the first time that RDJ quoted Wilmington’s Pee-wee line, either! He also mentioned it in a May 1988 Rolling Stone interview. While I am a believer in the whole “Don’t feed the trolls” mentality, I think RDJ’s speech was all in good fun. There’s something cheeky about poking fun at the people who make a living criticizing you. It’s that whole “embrace it so it loses its meaning” mentality. Sometimes what critics say can be fair and constructive, and other times, it’s just jumping on the bandwagon for views or clicks or whatever. If you’re going to respond, there’s a difference between coming off as bitter and making it into something that is all in good fun, and I think RDJ did a good job at making it the latter. Pick the sillier ones, with a bonus if they’re somewhat fair.

That said, it’s also somewhat bonkers to hold onto criticisms from decades ago! For context, when that 1988 review came out, RDJ was still dating Sarah Jessica Parker! Can you imagine if an actress got up there and gave that speech? Would their delivery have gone over as well as RDJ’s did? I wonder if he had those quotes living rent free in his memory bank for decades or if he had the idea for such a speech and (had an assistant) research ridiculous quotes ahead of time. Either way, it made for a fun, quirky out-of-the-box speech in an awards season that has hit the ground running without looking back. Also, the phrase, “Amusing as a bed-locked fart” totally sounds like a line out of Ted Lasso. I can literally hear any one of those characters saying it right now in my head.

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5 Responses to “Robert Downey Jr. quoted criticism from 36 years ago in his Critics Choice Speech”

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  1. Ameerah M says:

    Well this just goes to show that actors are humans too. We all hold onto to things someone has said to or about us.. Negative critique stays with us longer than positive. That’s unfortunately how the human brain works. I don’t think RDK necessarily holds a grudge. But it’s clear that particular bit of criticism – which was just mean btw and had nothing to do with his performance – hurt his feelings.

    • MissMarirose says:

      That’s a very good point. It’s not unusual to let a negative critique stay in the brain. And given the nature of acting, I imagine actors get that a lot. You always hear stories about the negative things casting directors say during auditions, producers say during filming, and then critics say in the media.

  2. Yup, Me says:

    It was a perfect time and place for that particular speeech, but considering the fact that RDJ has outlived the critic AND PeeWee Herman, I hope he’s let these go and it was just a bit for the awards ceremony.

  3. phlyfiremama says:

    Well, I mean he is kind of a one note actor. 🤷 IMO, of course~

  4. BQM says:

    The audience was loving this. Sandra Oh was dying. They’ve all gotten reviews like that at some point. I doubt he’s holding onto it or holding a grudge. I think he thought it would make for a fun speech given that it’s a CRITIC’S award. He’s having to give a lot of speeches this award season. You can’t just give the same one.