CLASSIC CHARM is a video essay series analyzing the world’s most charming men throughout history to help make you better with the fairer sex.
Robert Downey Jr. is an enigma to me. Or at least, he was. Not before I feel as though I almost cracked him. Weirdly enough, I think he’s like me: Really, really likes himself; really, really likes relationships; and really, really likes being a punk while still retaining the good graces of the community. That’s just a few similarities. The big ones.
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I mention these because I think they’re some of the cornerstones to what makes charm. Charm is great to me. I think it’s the best thing. It’s a little magical. I want to tie it together though… the point of really, really liking oneself and charm. You know why I think those go together? Not because of what you’re thinking. I think you’re thinking that it’s because charming people are usually full of themselves. I think there’s a smatter of that in there. But I think what’s more important is being so completely yourself that it’s pouring out the sides and finding its way out of every subtle glance and hum that you feel you know the person completely … or as well as you ever will in that one moment. And to us guys that like ourselves so much, we can’t possibly help but exude exactly who we are just like that. And just as much, it pains us to ever feel as though we are not being ourselves—not being exemplified in the exact light that we are.
Generally this demonstrates a well-rounded persona that shows all the sides of a person—if the person is well-rounded to begin with. The vulnerabilities like the bits of embarrassment and love and miff and arousal and fear and childish glee and all the others in-between. People—men especially—aren’t so used to showing all those things so openly and plainly and quickly and all-at-once. We like it. Because for whatever reason—we like the exact person that we are.
When Downey is done with an interview promoting a movie, watch as he’s not only quick to express his excitement at the fact that this was the last interview before lunch—but specifically to everyone around him.
The other thing is the fact that Robert Downey really loves relationships. This is a huge ingredient in the soup of charm. It’s the mix between this and the other stuff that makes the charm. Just one quality and it’idn’t be charm. It’d be some weird sort of mixture. Sometimes arrogance or narcissism or whatever it is. But when you like people—it helps. Genuinely actually care for them. Love them. I can’t express enough how real this clip is of RDJ expressing his love for one of his best friends, Mel Gibson. At the end, I want you to note the hug he gives to his friend. That embrace couldn’t be further from inauthentic . Robert couldn’t do anything other than love and support his best friend. And he had to show it.
Something also I notice that is wildly different from other celebrities is how he treats his wife—especially on-screen. He is absolutely smitten with his wife. So much so that interviewers have to comment on it.
And I can’t just ignore the third mentioned trait of charm, which is just a plain ‘ol spit in the face of expectations onto him and the institutions in which he operates. Robert Downey is a deviant type of guy. He isn’t scared to be weird and misbehave all over the place. Sometimes really big (orange jumpsuit), but most usually and most successfully in small doses. For instance, in how he met his wife.
He’s older now and knows how to wield his punk side to ways which benefit him too.
People have to still see that you’re at the core a good person though. Which is why I think everyone forgives him so easily. Robert Downey Jr. is genuinely a good guy—and that’s plain to see.
Here’s the thing: All charming person has these qualities. RDJ is just the best person to exemplify them all in a nice package for you here. But I want to get even deeper than this. I want to get into the chocolately, smooshiness of RDJ’s character. I think we all know that Robert Downey is an incredibly perceptive, sharp personality. It seems like he’s faster than the normal person. As though he can sense the reaction before it happens—or something. And up until now I just believe that was naturally him.
That’s the thing about learning social skills—the further I get into it—the more I realize everyone is basically the same. The difference is the steps they took to get to the place they are. Lemme put it this way: Before I went on this Downey Journey I looked at him and thought, “He’s… beyond.” But after—now—currently—I think, “I could do that.” But why? I’ve had flashes of his impeccable character before—many times actually. But never a consistent flow of exactly the level he’s on.
Then I saw this:
That’s it! It’s the stuff I think about constantly! Preparation! Who would’ve thunk that the most famous actor of today, the outstandingly charming Robert Downey Jr. thinks to focus on his demeanor? I thought it came natural.
Nope. This guy is a preparation machine. His #1 focus in life is prep. He preps for not prepping. He doesn’t even care about the script anymore. Why? Because he’s prepped so much that he levitates above the script. In terms of acting, Robert learns the script inside and out, and after that, the most important thing is making sure that he is perfectly wound. Tee’d up, I like to call it. His headspace, his mindset, his worldview, his reality, his focus, his demeanor, it’s all tee’d up baby. He’s dialed in. He’s so focused that he knows he’s going to be the sharpest guy in the room (except Craig Ferguson). I have ADHD so know this feeling. You know that feeling as soon as the coffee kicks in? Imagine that one moment at all times.
You know, I have a theory about drug addicts and alcoholics. Well, some of them. I think a lot of extroverts who are also addicts have a need to constantly be sharp at all times, and when they ever aren’t feeling that way—they use drugs to get them back up there as often as possible. I have a theory that was why Downey was so addicted to drugs. I think he wasn’t addicted to the satiation so much as he was addicted to being on top of things mentally.
Eckhart Tolle has talked about this before. He’s a spiritual teacher in case you didn’t know who this guy is. He says being completely present in the moment, drug-free, is exactly like being on drugs—except with drugs the effect is jumping at you. Whereas being meditative is much more calm where you are in control rather than the drug being in control of you.
Now you notice why Downey enjoys doing so many movies lately while balancing family life. It’s his opportunity to hit that sharp natural mental state as often as possible. Again, just my theory.
But to prove that Robbie is just any other shmuck like anyone else, I want you to watch this interview with him on Channel 4 in the UK. Look at Robert’s energy, you can tell he’s just off that day. My guess? He probably is on his 500th interview that week and is getting burnt out and just wants to be home with his wife and kids and this douche fuck is trying to subtly or not so subtly draw up some controversy. Guaranteed that a normal Downey would handle this interaction flawlessly. But a Downey who wasn’t prepared (or just burnt out?) He’s a mortal just like you and me.
I can’t stress this enough guys. Robert Downey Jr. is Robert Downey Jr. because he takes care of that ol’ pink matter, not because he’s intelligent, good-looking, or perfectly gifted. He, just like I, treat mental and physical preparation as the absolute most important part of his process. I know that personally my performance with people is either flying high or crash and burn depending on whether I took the steps necessary to put me in that right spot. You know, all tee’d up and shit.
Instead of ending it with some clever wrap-up, I’d like to end it with showing you what Robert does best. Enjoy.