Robert Downey Jr. won’t be Jon Favreau’s ‘Cowboy’


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Robert Downey Jr. won’t ride into the wild West after all.

The actor, who had been poised to reunite with ‘Iron Man’ director Jon Favreau for the science-fiction western ‘Cowboys & Aliens,’ won’t star in the film.

The movie, sources say, will still move forward with Favreau. But Downey has fallen off the project, and studio DreamWorks is seeking a new hero to replace him. Production is tentatively set to begin this year for a planned release in summer 2011.


Originally a serialized graphic novel, ‘Cowboys & Aliens’ focuses on outer-space creatures who land in Arizona circa the mid-19th century intent on enslaving the local population -- until a group of cowboys and Apache Indians fight back. (There was a further Iron Man connection to ‘Cowboys:’ writers Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby wrote an original draft of the script.)

Downey was set to play the gunslinger Zeke Jackson, who leads the anti-alien revolt. But scheduling issues -- Downey’s been one of the busier actors in Hollywood -- forced a re-think. The project would have marked a third potential franchise a resurgent Downey would have been involved with, after ‘Iron Man’ and ‘Sherlock Holmes,’ which is expected to spawn a sequel.

While Downey has not committed to anything new (he will star in the Todd Phillips comedy ‘Due Date’ opposite Zach Galifianakis, which has wrapped), his parting with ‘Cowboys’ could re-ignite speculation that a ‘Sherlock’ sequel is on the fast track. Downey is attached to several other development projects as well. (He also has been associated with the ‘Harvey’ remake at DreamWorks, at least before Steven Spielberg opted out.)

Whatever his next role, the actor’s falling off ‘Cowboys’ opens up a little breathing room in his relentless schedule -- even if it might make DreamWorks a little short of breath.

-- Steven Zeitchik


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