Downey is so well-known for the role these days that it's hard for many to believe anyone else could have gotten it. Other possible candidates included Tom Cruise, Sam Rockwell, Hugh Jackman, and more.
Timothy Olyphant on Losing MCU Role to Robert Downey Jr.
While speaking on The Playlist's Binge Worthy podcast prior to the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike, The Mandalorian star Timothy Olyphant was honest about losing the role of Tony Stark in Iron Man to Robert Downey Jr. for the 2008 film.
Olyphant shared that while he was initially "scared to death" of auditioning for a big blockbuster film, he thought trying out for Iron Man "would be fun:"
“I can only tell you that I remember thinking that was the first time where, because I’m a bit of a slow learner and I think I was scared to death of the things that come with success in this business, but that was the time where I remember thinking, ‘Well, I can’t get any more grounded and so [auditioning for 'Iron Man'] would be fun.
Olyphant went on to note he "[has] a tremendous amount of respect for [Jon Favreau]:"
"I think prior to that I was like, ‘Oh, I don’t want those kinds of problems.’ And I think part of that appeal was those conversations that I had with [Jon] Favreau – I just have a tremendous amount of respect for him and I just like the guy. He’s just a good dude.”
The star then joked director Jon Favreau "doesn't owe [him] anything," especially since the filmmaker is the person who hired him to play Cobb Vanth:
“And so, if you’re going to go down that road, you’re not going to find anyone better to go down it with, so I have fond memories of that experience, you know? I try to see things simply for what they are and not what they could be and any conversations I had with Jon about that job and about that process, I remember it very fondly. It was an enjoyable process…And, well, he’s the one who hired me for [‘The Mandalorian’], so he doesn’t owe me anything.”
Timothy Olyphant, the Iron Man Who Never Was
Many fans probably can't help but still wonder what everything would be like if Timothy Olyphant got the role of Tony Stark instead of Robert Downey Jr.
Perhaps the Multiverse Saga can bring in The Mandalorian star to portray an alternate Iron Man.
Or, even better, Marvel Studios could find a more substantial, consistent role in the MCU. Perhaps his name can be thrown around with the endless parade of rumored participants in the upcoming Fantastic Four movie.
But when might the actor return to the role of Cobb Vanth?
Until then, the actor can be seen on Justified: Primeval City, which is now streaming on FX and Hulu.