Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty ImagesRobert Downey Jr.'s future in the Marvel Universe may be in doubt, but that's not stopping him from starting work on a new project. And for his next movie, he'll be teaming up with Jon Favreau, his colleague on the three "Iron Man" pictures.
Downey has signed on for the lead role in "Chef," an independent comedy to be directed by Favreau, who has also written the screenplay and will co-star. In the movie, Downey will play a chef at an upscale restaurant who loses his job and has a falling out with his family. The chef starts over by starting a food truck, and tries to heal his relationship with his family as he puts his career back on track.
For Favreau, "Chef" represents something of a return to his roots – he enjoyed a major career breakthrough with the 1996 with the indie comedy "Swingers," which he co-wrote as well as playing the lead, and he directed the comedies "Made" and "Elf" before hitting pay dirt as a filmmaker with "Iron Man" and "Iron Man 2." Favreau also played Happy Hogan, Tony Stark's bodyguard, in all three "Iron Man" movies, so he and Downey have plenty of experience bantering on screen.
Downey, meanwhile, has expressed an interest in doing smaller, independent projects in between superhero vehicles, and "Chef" will give him a chance to do just that. It should also give him a fun way to occupy himself while he continues negotiations with Marvel Studios; Downey's contact with Marvel was concluded with "Iron Man 3," and gossip has it that Downey is willing to return to play Tony Stark in future projects, but only if the money is right. Given Marvel's well-documented reluctance to part with a dollar, it's an open question if he'll be in "The Avengers 2" or "Iron Man 4." (Though since "Iron Man 3" is currently on track to a worldwide gross of over a billion dollars within the next few weeks, giving Downey another few million would seem like a safe investment.)
"Chef" will also star Sofia Vergara, John Leguizamo, and Bobby Cannavale, and is being financed by Aldamisa Entertainment in partnership with Kilburn Media. No studio is currently attached to release the picture, but given the talent on board, getting someone to pick up the picture should be no problem at all.