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Robert Downey Jr. stepped into ‘Iron Man 3’ with an agenda

Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) Col. James Rhodes (DCheadle) are partners armor “IrMan 3” opening Friday.

Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Col. James Rhodes (Don Cheadle) are partners in armor in “Iron Man 3,” opening Friday.

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Updated: May 29, 2013 6:43AM

LOS ANGELES — As the star of “Iron Man 3,” Robert Downey Jr. has the responsibility of jump-starting the summer movie season. Does he feel the weight? The pressure? The heaviness of it all?

“Oh, heaviness? So, we’re going to start by talking about suit envy between me and Don Cheadle?” Downey says, referring to his co-star. “The truth is my Iron Man suit weighs 7,000 pounds.”

Leave it to the girl to set the record straight. “I wore the suit in this movie and it’s not so bad,” says Gwyneth Paltrow, who plays Iron Man love interest Pepper Potts.

“I admit that we’re wimps,” Downey concurs. “The hardest thing about doing an Iron Man movie is you always wonder in that suit where your lot is going to grab you.”

He’ll let you figure that one out.

“By the way, Gwyneth did wear the suit in No. 3. Her kids were there. She’s in rocking shape.”

But “she wore the suit once or twice,” says the quick-witted Downey. “It’s a cumulative issue when you wear the suit a lot.”

Still, he wasn’t going to miss suiting up for the third outing in his hit franchise.

In “Iron Man 3,” brash-yet-brilliant industrialist Tony Stark finds his personal and professional life destroyed when the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) comes to wreak havoc on the world. Cheadle is back as Col. James Rhodes.

Downey tapped his “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” director Shane Black to direct. What was his biggest challenge in keeping the “Iron Man” story going?

“These films are only as good as their bad guys,” Downey says. “Once we cast Sir Ben, half of our troubles went away.

“I also went into this third installment knowing there were things to do. Pepper needed to have her arc. It was overdue. Tony needed to prove that he indeed wasn’t an island. Tony as a man expanded in ‘The Avengers.’ ”

It’s been a juggling act supporting both the Iron Man and Avengers franchises. “We had to hammer out where all the strings go,” he says. “Where does something move when you push it?”

Downey lives a quiet life these days with wife Susan Downey, their baby and his grown son. He also runs a busy production company responsible for the “Sherlock Holmes” movies produced by his wife.

As busy as he is, Downey says that even he likes to sit through the long “Iron Man” credits for the end bonus, which we won’t reveal here.

Cheadle seems confused when Downey mentions action after the credits — a Marvel trademark.

“Let me explain this to you. When you shoot those Easter eggs after the credits it gets people really excited,” Downey says.

“Oh, you’re supposed to watch till the end?” Cheadle teases him. “I didn’t know.”

To which Downey gives his best serious Tony Stark glare.

Big Picture News Inc.

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