Before I shut down last night I watched the RDJ interview that everyone’s been talking about. He was in London the other day to promote Avengers: Age Of Ultron. The outlet was Channel 4 with journalist Krishnan Guru-Murthy. It’s making headlines because the video is a major cringe. Guru-Murthy starts with a series of standard, innocuous movie questions and then attempts to get personal. RDJ gives him a warning (“Are we promoting a movie?”), and keeps looking at his publicist, and then goes stone cold with a glare and then eventually, when Guru-Murthy pushes, walks out, telling him he’s a “schmuck” who wants to be Diane Sawyer.
Well, we all want to be Diane Sawyer. Any reporter who’s ever been assigned to a movie junket wants to be Diane Sawyer. We know it’s impossible. Because most of us only get 5 minutes (some of the bigger outlets are periodically allowed 8 or 10). But we all go in with this hope, this hope that in the first 30 seconds we can make the connection that will yield the most exclusive soundbite that we can take home to air on our respective shows.
That’s the Diane Sawyer advantage, see? She gets invited into their homes. They walk through Central Park. Over that time she’s allowed to open them up and go deep. The rest of us have to make the most out of our few minutes, often never going beyond the baseline questions that you have to throw out there because you can’t set up a 2 minute piece on a half hour entertainment news show without starting from the beginning.
If you enjoy Robert Downey Jr, and I do, a lot, you came out of this on his side. It’s that bizarre idol-fan relationship, that inclination to protect them, defend them, even though you don’t f-cking know them. So how dare that guy be so rude, how dare he go there. Just talk about Iron Man and be done with it. But I don’t know. Today I woke up feeling a little differently about how it all went down. Krishnan Guru-Murthy doesn’t work for Access Hollywood. He’s not a professional entertainment/celebrity junketeer. A junketeer is on the junket beat almost every weekend. They want to be liked by the movie star. Guru-Murthy’s priority in his interviews however isn’t about being liked. Google him. He’s moderated debates during elections. He covers natural disasters and international conflicts. He works for a news show. Their focus is less on the star-gazing than it is on the human interest story. So he clearly did his research. He read up on old RDJ interviews. He thought maybe he could go from Tony Stark to politics to personal and professional rehabilitation and redemption. RDJ, on the other hand, thought it was just another junket interview with someone who was going to ask him the same questions he’d been answering all day.
Maybe then it’s not a case of who was wrong but a case of both were right? RDJ’s expectation was to advertise his movie the way he’s been advertising his movie. And you can’t fault him on that effort – active on social media, perhaps the most active of all of them on social media, he is the team leader, he’s leading by his enthusiasm and engagement. It’s been fluff. And he’s not ashamed of the fluff. He’s not embarrassed by the fluff. Unlike many of his colleagues, he happily embraces the fluff – which is why we love him. But Guru-Murthy has a job too and his job expectation was to present this information – no fluff. How did the fluff and the no fluff end up in a room together?