Robert Downey Junior is portraying a newspaper reporter in a movie for the second time in as many years, for some reason. The troubled-but-admired actor is either going to get people to read newspapers again and save the industry or generate a new wave of sad, unemployable journalism school graduates. His latest project is The Soloist, now filming, in which he plays a Los Angeles Times columnist who discovers a brilliant but schizophrenic musician living on the street. The movie follows 2007's Zodiac, in which Downey Jr. played an alcoholic but brilliant San Francisco Chronicle reporter, a role that agreed with him. Despite the movies, the real-life inspiration for the actor's Soloist character sounds pretty depressed about newspapers:
THE movie, due out Nov. 21, also offers a measure of redemption for today's embattled journalists. Lopez says recent staff cutbacks have hit hard. "It's like we all have post-traumatic stress disorder. It's like being on a battlefield where there are bodies all around you. We're just in survival mode."
He acknowledges that during a particularly dark time he considered leaving the paper, believing he might do more good on the outside. "I still can't say I'm optimistic," he admits. "This is my seventh newspaper, and the reason I keep moving is the newspapers keep falling apart behind me. But one of the gifts I got from Nathaniel is learning that I have a passion too. Seeing how blissful he is listening to a great concerto made me realize that I felt the same way when I found a story that moved somebody or made someone think."
Especially if you're a reporter or movie reviewer, it's hard to fault Downey Jr. for splashing so much glamour on such a threadbare industry. Here he is sexing up the trailer for Zodiac: