Robert Downey Jr. and Jimmy Fallon revealed the hilarious story of their ill-fated auditions for Nancy Meyers’ romantic comedy “The Holiday.”
The “Iron Man” star, 58, and “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” host, 48, told Howard Stern on “The Howard Stern Show” on July 17 that they were brought in together to read for the male lead roles of the 2006 movie.
“We both got called in just as seat-fillers and we saw each other,” Downey Jr. recalled.
As it turned out, they couldn’t compete with the film’s eventual stars.
Actors Jack Black and Jude Law ended up scoring the roles that Fallon and Downey Jr. auditioned for — though Downey Jr. was hopeful at the time.
“Jack Black is getting his part and Jude Law is definitely getting my part, but [Meyers] needed someone to read with the gals, and we’re sitting there going, ‘It’s about to happen for us,’” Downey Jr. joked.
Fallon recalled the two of them reading for the parts with actors Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet, who both went on to play the female leads of the film.
“In other words, A-listers and then me and homie,” Downey Jr. quipped in reference to Diaz and Winslet.
Undeterred, Fallon was still intent on the role.
“I said, if Jack Black says no to this movie, I’m so in. I’ll do it for half his price,” he said.
One major roadblock was Downey Jr.'s accent work. The actor attempted to imitate a British accent, only to be brutally cut down to size by U.K. native Winslet.
“I was like, ‘I’ve got to have a better English accent than Jude Law at this point,’” he said.
“You did though, you did do a great British accent,” Fallon chimed in.
However, Winslet didn't agree.
“Winslet said, ‘That is the worst British accent I’ve ever heard in my life,’” Downey Jr. recalled. “I was like, ‘I’ll check out now but I’m taking the gummy bears from the minibar.’”
Though the two didn't end up with the roles, Fallon still praised Downey Jr.'s acting skills.
“Honestly, I will tell you by far, without a doubt, I’m sitting across from Robert Downey Jr., and I go, ‘This is the best actor I’ve ever sat across and did a scene with in my entire life,’” Fallon said. “It was mind-blowing for me and ... I quit the business. I never went back. That was the last time I auditioned for a role.”
Though their tenures did not overlap, both Fallon and Downey Jr. were part of the “Saturday Night Live” cast.
Fallon left SNL in 2004 to pursue a movie career, but returned to television in 2009 as the host of “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” replacing previous host Conan O’Brien. In 2014, he succeeded Jay Leno as the host of “The Tonight Show.”
Downey Jr. may have been passed over for “The Holiday,” but he landed an enormous role just a couple of years later. In 2007, he was cast as Tony Stark in Marvel’s “Iron Man” by director Jon Favreau.
Downey Jr. starred as the titular character in the first “Iron Man” film in 2008, and has continued to play Iron Man in the Marvel movie franchise.
In a January 2020 episode of “The Tonight Show,” Downey Jr. and Fallon discussed their past career triumphs and flops.
Watching an old SNL skit, Fallon joked, “The flop sweat is coming back. It was awful.”
But Downey Jr. took a positive spin, responding, “Look at us here now.”