Fans Cannot Believe Marvel Star Robert Downey Jr.’s Unrecognizable New Look

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Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark with a blurred photo of him as a character from The Sympathizer in the bottom right

Credit: Inside the Magic

Next year, Park Chan-wook and Don McKellar’s The Sympathizer will hit HBO and later stream on Max. Making up just a part of the stellar cast, which also includes Sandra Oh (Grey’s Anatomy, Killing Eve) and Hoa Xuande (Cowboy Bebop), is Marvel icon Robert Downey Jr. (Avengers: Endgame). A closer image of Downey Jr.’s antagonist character — the American Establishment (yes, you read correctly) — has just been shared, and fans cannot believe his new look.

Robert Downey Jr. in Downey's Dream Cars
Credit: Warner Bros.

Actor Robert Downey Jr. is a popular face in Hollywood. From his starring role as Tony Stark, AKA Iron Man, in The Walt Disney Company and Marvel Studios’ Marvel Cinematic Universe to playing the famous detective Sherlock Holmes to being nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Tropic Thunder (2008), Downey Jr. has done it all. And next year, his acting chops will be stretched even more, with a leading role in Park Chan-wook and Don McKellar’s The Sympathizer.

Based on Viet Thanh Nguyen’s 2015 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name, The Sympathizer follows Captain (Xuande), a North Vietnam spy planted in the South Vietnam army, who later flees to the United States, where he continues to spy in the South Vietnamese community he resides.

Robert Downey. Jr in The Sympathizer
Credit: HBO

Rounding out the rest of the cast of the political TV thriller is Fred Nguyen Khan as Bon, Toan Le as the General, Ky Duyen as Madame (the General’s wife), Sandra Oh as Ms. Sofia Mori, and Robert Downey Jr. playing, what has been described as, “different aspects of the American Establishment.”

After the trailer was shared a fair few months ago, an image of Downey Jr. in a startling new look has been shared online, to the immense shock of fans. Discussing Film (@DiscussingFilm) shared the image on X (formerly Twitter), writing:

New look at Robert Downey Jr in Park Chan-wook’s ‘THE SYMPATHIZER’.

He plays several characters that represent different aspects of the American establishment.

Following the image release, multiple comments poured in, expressing shock at the photograph.

Azra Games (@AzraGames) wrote:

literally unrecognizable. Wouldn’t have known without the caption

Michael (@Fearlessfunkmf) thought Downey Jr. was a completely different actor:

Thought it was charles dance at first

@BNezamoodeen could not contain their shock:


Related: Marvel Finally Confirms Iron Man’s Return to the MCU

When the trailer was released earlier this year, many comments were aimed at the story, Xuande’s performance, and the seemingly positive adaptation attempt over Downey Jr.’s variety of characters. Now that the actor has been showcased individually, like in the above tweet, fans are seeing just what a transformation it is. You can view the full trailer of The Sympathizer here or below. The Sympathizer is produced by A24 and Rhombus Media and will air on HBO and later stream on Max at some point in 2024.

Robert Downey Jr.’s Impressive 2023

While some may have thought that Downey Jr.’s career may slow down after his dramatic exit from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it has done, arguably, quite the opposite. Free from his red-and-gold armor, Downey Jr. starred in this year’s smash hit, Barb

No — Oppenheimer.

Robert Downey Jr. in 'Oppenheimer' (2023)
Credit: Universal Pictures

Related: Upcoming Robert Downey Jr. Project Canceled by Studio

Opening in what became colloquially known as the Barbenheimer weekend, Oppenheimer (2023), from director Christopher Nolan, explored the creation of the atomic bomb. Downey Jr. starred as the high-ranking U.S. official Lewis Strauss, alongside the likes of Cillian Murphy and Emily Blunt, who played Robert and Kitty Oppenheimer.

Downey Jr.’s role in Oppenheimer may secure him yet another Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor, but only time will tell on that one.

What do you think of Robert Downey Jr.’s new look in The Sympathizer? Let Inside the Magic know in the comments down below!

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