Robert Downey Jr on Vertigo remake: ‘We can do better”

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Robert Downey Jr shoots for the moon with his latest update on the planed remake of the Hitchcock classic, Vertigo.

There was a little surprise when it was announced that Robert Downey Jr would be producing and starring in a remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1958 classic romantic thriller, Vertigo. The film stands as one of Alfred Hitchcock’s finest and remaking Hitchcock never really seems to work out in a filmmaker’s favour. Ask Gus Van Sant or Ben Wheatley who both took on remakes of Hitchcock material and faced reviews that were at best tepid and (in the case of Van Sant’s Psycho remake), hostile.

Downey has revealed a little more about the planned remake, telling The New York Times, “we are certainly looking into it. First of all, who would our partners be in it? Love them, respect them. Second of all, let me reread the original synopsis. I think we can do better.”

It’s important to mention here that aiming to ‘do better’ should always be a filmmaker’s priority when approaching a remake (even when that film has sometimes sat at the top of critics’ all-time best film lists, as Vertigo has). That’s part of the reason Van Sant’s 1998 Psycho remake was so poorly received: as a shot-for-shot remake it didn’t seek to surpass the original, rather emulate it in too reverential a fashion.

Still, thinking that you can improve upon a classic and stating it out loud for all the world to hear are two different things entirely and we can’t help but wonder if this claim will come back to bite Downey at some point down the line. To be entirely fair, he is specifically referencing the ‘original synopsis’ when he talks about doing ‘better’ so it sounds like at least we’ll be getting a changed story, from which Downey and writer, Stephen Knight can build something new.

The actor admits that it’s quite the challenge, adding that the project is beyond risky: “Exactly! Not even risky. Advisably ridiculous to even consider,” he states. “Great, let’s look into it!” Well, you certainly can’t fault his boldness. We’ll bring you more on this one as we hear it.

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