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James Toback vs. Robert Downey Jr.

I realize this is old news - did a search and couldn't find a thread - but it is new to me.

I always assumed that Toback and Downey were close simply because Toback cast him three times. Evidently Toback has nothing but contempt for him:

“I hate to say something like this, but my hatred is not strong enough to stop me from saying it. I discovered and invented him. He was a reject when I met him. A junkie reject. And I found something appealing in him - kind of cute and unassuming and devious and perverse. And I gave him the lead in “The Pick-up Artist” which was a huge film. He had had a bit part in “Back To School” and a bit part in “Tuff Turf” …but basically, Robert Downey was going nowhere fast.”

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by Anonymousreply 23November 26, 2021 4:46 PM

And from a different interview with Indiewire:

"I wanted to make a movie. I hadn’t made a movie in a while and was getting restless. Downey [was just] getting out of prison and knowing most of those guys—it’s true of Mike Tyson too—when they’re getting out of prison is the best time to get them....right after 11 months of prison with about 200 dicks sucked in return for a lot of crack, you know there’s a totally different reality and that Downey is fascinating to watch."

I guess Toback goes looking for woman to date just outside rape crisis centers and battered women's shelters.

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by Anonymousreply 1November 25, 2021 1:13 AM

And somehow the most brutal.

All of this shit sounds like a spurned lover talking. It's beyond possessive and creepy. "I made them" has never been true about anybody worth boasting about. And the person who says such a thing never did it anyway.

No wonder Molly Ringwald ran for the hills.

Funny thing is Downey has a way of staying loyal to his supporters even when they pull some rank shit. Given that Toback has since been dropped down the Oompa-Loompa garbage chute, I wonder if he regrets burning this particular bridge?

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by Anonymousreply 2November 25, 2021 1:17 AM

The Pickup Artist was a flop.

Downey made a bigger splash in Less Than Zero. That was another flop, but at least people talked about it, and it made a little bit more money beyond its reported budget.

by Anonymousreply 3November 25, 2021 1:26 AM

My thoughts exactly. Less Than Zero, whatever its merits as a film, was certainly the larger-profile project and arguably the better performance out of RDJ (although he was quite good in The Pick-Up Artist). Back to School was a wildly successful comedy and led to Weird Science, more of a cult film, but not nothing.

Toback is a possessive and envious creep.

I just am taken aback that he'd shit all over his arguably most successful "protégé".

Methinks Mrs. D. shut a door or three in James' fat face.

by Anonymousreply 4November 25, 2021 1:30 AM

Toback was able to pull a lot of people into his orbit for a while. Pauline Kael and Warren Beatty were two others. He must have been able to turn on the charm at times. Though according to his Wikipedia article, *395* women contacted the Los Angeles Times and reported that he sexually harrassed them. That's a lotta smoke.

by Anonymousreply 5November 25, 2021 2:14 AM

Didn't Molly Ringwald say Beatty had actually directed The Pick-up Artist?

I was surprised that Kael, who was pretty inured to such behavior, fell for his schtick.

by Anonymousreply 6November 25, 2021 2:16 AM

Screw that guy.

by Anonymousreply 7November 25, 2021 6:51 AM

James Toback is a piece of shit. A predator.

by Anonymousreply 8November 25, 2021 7:01 AM

At first I thought you all were talking about the producer of The Courtship of Eddie's Father and Welcome Back, Kotter. I was surprised his career had such longevity and extended to film, so I googled him.

Komack. James Komack.

by Anonymousreply 9November 25, 2021 7:08 AM

Kael's reviews of "Fingers" and "The Pick-Up Artist" are desperately unconvincing attempts to hype her friend's crappy movies.

by Anonymousreply 10November 25, 2021 7:31 AM

I think Kael was genuinely impressed by Downey, who keeps the mostly-repellant concept of The Pick-Up Artist charming. He puts across a chatty vibe that seems eager without being sleazy. The idea that Toback somehow invented this for him or that Downey was simply raw material is absurd. Downey's ingratiating persona is his own. He could make a sudden audit of your taxes seem like a fun slightly sexy romp.

by Anonymousreply 11November 25, 2021 3:24 PM

Interviewer: Can we go back to “200 dicks sucked”, please?

by Anonymousreply 12November 25, 2021 4:52 PM

Good thing it was 200 dicks. 199 and Toback would be all like: "Downey, I'm just not feeling the commitment from you." 201 and it's "Robert, you're over-egging the pudding."

by Anonymousreply 13November 25, 2021 5:21 PM

This is BS. RDJ always had some cache being the son of RDS and coming from an arty, alternative background. It’s not like he was an unknown that Toback picked off the street and made into a star.

As said above, RDJ won great reviews for his performance in Less Than Zero, and again for Chaplin a few years later.

by Anonymousreply 14November 25, 2021 9:08 PM

I looked up what RDJ had to say about working with Toback.

Nothing but how much he enjoyed it.

Wonder if he'd give a different answer now.

by Anonymousreply 15November 25, 2021 9:14 PM

What brought this on? RDJ turned him down? Too big for Toback now? Whatever, toback sounds a real shit.

by Anonymousreply 16November 25, 2021 9:42 PM

I don’t know him.

by Anonymousreply 17November 25, 2021 10:04 PM

Given the depths of Downey's addiction he is probably entirely sober now. In cases like that it's all or nothing.

by Anonymousreply 18November 25, 2021 10:18 PM

I wouldn't be surprised if he is on prescription drugs, etc., though.

by Anonymousreply 19November 26, 2021 12:08 AM

He might have to be, given what he has been through mentally and physically. Toback blows it off, but sometimes these are necessary things.

That said, if he's on them, I don't see them as slowing him down mentally.

by Anonymousreply 20November 26, 2021 2:59 AM

Hard pass, R7

by Anonymousreply 21November 26, 2021 3:42 PM

For what it's worth, Kael also praised Downey in Back to School, which she found otherwise infantile (which it is, but I love it anyway).

Toback is rewriting history to suit his own ego.

by Anonymousreply 22November 26, 2021 4:35 PM

Another Toback/Downey story, this one from Vanity Fair, 2014.

"The collaboration with Downey on The Pick-Up Artist had its exciting moments, some of them occurring when the camera was rolling, others when it was not. The final one took place on what was to be the last of three extra shooting days we had been granted by Fox to fill in some holes which had emerged during editing. Cast and crew were assembled at the designated location in downtown Los Angeles, but Downey was missing. Frantic calls were made everywhere. Production assistants were sent to check out the house in Beverly Hills he had rented from Desi Arnaz Jr. By early afternoon, the decision was made to take an insurance claim. We would have to do without the new scenes. So extreme was my rage that I switched back and forth between fear and hope that something awful had befallen him. I decided to examine the house for myself. I drove to it and rang every bell and pounded on every door. There was no response. I found a rock and smashed the window of the kitchen door, reached around, and let myself in. I moved quickly, calling out Downey’s name, to no effect. Then, suddenly, I found myself standing three feet from his naked body, lying flat on the living-room floor. I shouted his name and tried to rouse him but got no response. I called a doctor, who arrived promptly, examined Downey, and then administered medication.

“Five minutes later and he would have been dead,” the doctor said dramatically.

After effusive thanks and receiving instructions for Downey’s care, I saw the doctor to the door. Then I approached Downey, who was now sitting on the sofa in his underwear, gazing at me with a look of displeasure.

“I’m disappointed in you,” he said.

“You’re disappointed in me! Are you out of your fucking mind!”

“No. Because I know what you’re thinking. You’re assuming the worst—that I was into some drug thing and that’s what made me late.”

“Late! You didn’t show up at all!”

“Do you want to know the truth?”

“Oh Jesus fucking Christ!”

“You know what? Now I’m not even going to tell you.”

“O.K. What’s the truth?” I asked, perversely curious to see what Downey would invent.

“I had dinner at Carlos and Charlie’s last night and they served bad chicken and I got food poisoning.”

I tried—unsuccessfully—to suppress a laugh.

“You see? I knew you wouldn’t believe me,” he said. “O.K.—I insist that you call the restaurant right now and ask the manager how many people called in this morning to complain about the bad chicken. And I want to hear his reaction.”

Dutifully, I called Carlos and Charlie’s and asked to speak to the manager. “Excuse me. I have a friend who got food poisoning from the chicken you served last night and I’d like to know how many other people have called in to complain today.”

“Who the hell is this?” the manager screamed. “What are you talking about! No one has ever gotten sick from our food!”

I hung up and looked at Downey, whose expression could be charted somewhere between satisfaction and triumph.


“Well, what?” I said. “He denied it categorically.”

“Of course he denied it,” Downey exclaimed with exasperation. “What did you think he was going to say? He has to deny it.”

I waited for a few moments to see if Downey would crack up in the hope of an eyelash of empathetic camaraderie but—stone-faced—he was determined to play out the scene to the hilt."

I read this before I read the other stuff and was inclined to believe it. Now, I'm not so sure. Downey has been so open about his drug life that it seems hard to believe that a near-death experience like this wouldn't be something he'd mention at some point. And the whole anecdote has a weird salacious feel to it. Plus, we're supposed to believe that a doctor would arrive for a life-threatening condition - but then not send for an ambulance? That he'd give some random dude and not a family member instruction for the care and feeding of a nearly-dead naked kid?


If I were Downey I'd sue this lardy bitch.

by Anonymousreply 23November 26, 2021 4:46 PM
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