Robert Downey Jr. Owes Terrence Howard $100 Million For “Iron Man” Recasting

Photo by Igor Bumba

Personal hostility may have serious financial ramifications in the world of Hollywood movie stars. Consider Terrence Howard, who memorably co-starred in “Iron Man” with Robert Downey Jr. when the latter was an unknown wild card on his way to becoming one of the world’s greatest (and best paid) movie stars. After the first film, Howard left the franchise, and his role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe was taken over by Don Cheadle, and life continued on happily ever after. You may not pay attention to a few statements Howard has given over the years, including one in which he stated that, in his opinion, RDJ cost him $100 million.

Howard’s departure from the “Iron Man” films was motivated by money, as well as Marvel’s failure to keep commitments made to him. The most in-depth analysis of the matter comes from Howard’s 2015 interview with Rolling Stone. In it, Howard claims that during the casting of the first “Iron Man” film, he took a $1 million pay reduction against his original offer of $3.5 million in order to assure Downey got the part that would become his iconic role.

Howard claims that his contract with Marvel contained two extra sequels, but that when it came time to shoot the sequel to “Iron Man,” Marvel tried to stiff him, offering him a fraction of the $5 million he was expected to get for the second film. Howard says that he went to see Downey to try to get some help in exchange for the help he gave on the first film.

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“I contacted Robby and said, ‘Look, guy.’ Leaving messages with his assistants, he contacted him at least 17 times that day and 21 times the following, ultimately leaving a message that said, “Look, guy, I need the help that I provided you.”

That assistance did not arrive, and the agreement finally went through, resulting in Howard’s role being recast in various sequels and related projects, including a planned “Armor Wars” feature picture starring Cheadle. Howard says that this was the same as “handing over” the franchise to Downey by himself:

“Guess who received the millions that were meant to go to me? I gave him $100 million, which resulted in a $100 million loss for me from having to care for somebody, but you know, I would do the same thing to this day. It’s just my personality. “

If you believe Howard’s assertion that he accepted a big pay reduction to persuade Downey to play Tony Stark, you can then conclude that all of his success (and all of those huge paychecks that followed) can be linked back to one choice. However, Howard stated in an Andy Cohen interview two years after the Rolling Stone article that the two were no longer feuding, burying a $100 million Stark Industries hatchet in the process!