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Terrence Howard talks his departure from the Iron Man franchise; says Don Cheadle was original choice for the role

Mar. 18, 2013by: Paul Shirey

Marvel Studios has steered the comic-book-to-film market with the precision of a seasoned sailor.  Every aspect of production, story, and choosing a director has been a carefully balanced choice.  And, certainly that applies to casting.  Their first few films into the Marvel Phase 1 plan saw two casualties; Ed Norton from THE INCREDIBLE HULK and Terrence Howard from IRON MAN.  Although varying statements have been released from all parties, it's hard to narrow down just what exactly went wrong with each deal that saw both Norton and Howard excised from their respective franchise roles.

While promoting DEAD MAN DOWN, Howard clarified his departure from the IRON MAN franchise, saying that it ultimately came down to money, as he was paid $4.5 million for his role as James Rhodes in the signature film, with the lead, Robert Downey Jr., reportedly bringing in just $500,000 (don't worry, he's reportedly netted a much healthier payday since). Howard said that it basically came down to taking a massive pay cut for the sequel and that he didn't understand the concept of the three-picture deal he had signed, saying:

"The second time they came and they, um, said we think the movie will be successful with or without you, so instead of the 8 million we said we were gonna pay you we're going to let you come back for a million dollars. Now, we did a three-picture deal already, so it wasn't any negotiating.  It was a three-picture deal so I'm like, oh, we're good.  I forgot-I didn't know that it was not a mutually binding contract.  It was only beneficial for them.  They could bring me back or not.  They could honor it or not. And you know, they made a great deal.  Don [Cheadle] and Robert [Downey Jr.] they get along well."

Howard also went on to clarify that he has no bad blood with Don Cheadle, who took over the role of James Rhodes/War Machine for the sequel (and again in IRON MAN 3), saying:

Really, initially, they wanted Don in that role and my agent pushed me into the role.  So, I never had beef with Don about any of that stuff.  I never had beef with them [Marvel] about it.

You can check out the full interview here for some more tidbits on the whole thing. Since the IRON MAN debacle went down, Howard went on to get his doctorate in chemical engineering and has starred in a number of films since.  His current film, DEAD MAN DOWN, is currently in theaters.  The role of James Rhodes/War Machine lives on with Don Cheadle in IRON MAN 3, out May 3, 2013.

Extra Tidbit: Do you prefer Howard or Cheadle in the role of James Rhodes?
Source: Sways Universe

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1:54AM on 05/02/2013
I came to hear Terrance Howard make a fool of himself.
I came to hear Terrance Howard make a fool of himself.
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11:37AM on 03/19/2013

Ph. D. In chemical engineering?

Good on ya, very impressive. I thought he and RDJ had better chemistry than with Cheadle, which is ironic I suppose because I remember reading that Downey and Favreau didn't get along with Howard at all and that was one of the reasons they didn't want him back.
Good on ya, very impressive. I thought he and RDJ had better chemistry than with Cheadle, which is ironic I suppose because I remember reading that Downey and Favreau didn't get along with Howard at all and that was one of the reasons they didn't want him back.
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10:32AM on 03/19/2013

Ph. D. In chemical engineering?

Good on ya, very impressive. I thought he and RDJ had better chemistry than with Cheadle, which is ironic I suppose because I remember reading that Downey and Favreau didn't get along with Howard at all and that was one of the reasons they didn't want him back.
Good on ya, very impressive. I thought he and RDJ had better chemistry than with Cheadle, which is ironic I suppose because I remember reading that Downey and Favreau didn't get along with Howard at all and that was one of the reasons they didn't want him back.
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9:05AM on 03/19/2013
This doesn't surprise me. While i do love Marvel Studios but they do have a very notorious reputation for being cheap (for when it comes to their actors, directors and films). I mean haven't you guys ever noticed how the final battle scene "The Avengers" is basically set in one street rather all over the city?
This doesn't surprise me. While i do love Marvel Studios but they do have a very notorious reputation for being cheap (for when it comes to their actors, directors and films). I mean haven't you guys ever noticed how the final battle scene "The Avengers" is basically set in one street rather all over the city?
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11:15PM on 03/18/2013
I like Don Cheadle, probably more so than Terrence Howard, but Howard was much better as Rhodes. That, and by changing to Cheadle for the 2nd, they messed up the continuity. So I would have much rather seen Howard back for IM2 and beyond. And with the success of the first one, you'd think they would be able to pay what they initially agreed to pay him.
I like Don Cheadle, probably more so than Terrence Howard, but Howard was much better as Rhodes. That, and by changing to Cheadle for the 2nd, they messed up the continuity. So I would have much rather seen Howard back for IM2 and beyond. And with the success of the first one, you'd think they would be able to pay what they initially agreed to pay him.
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10:23PM on 03/18/2013
I prefer Terrence Howard as Rhodes, and while Don Cheadle is an excellent actor, I would have preferred Jamie Foxx taking on the role instead.
I prefer Terrence Howard as Rhodes, and while Don Cheadle is an excellent actor, I would have preferred Jamie Foxx taking on the role instead.
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10:03PM on 03/18/2013
Good to know that Terence is cool about it. I liked him better as Rhodes. In fact, and as phenomenally awesome as Mark Ruffalo is, it always bothers me that we saw a different Bruce Banner in the MCU. I hate recasts. That being said, I always thought it would have been amazing if Idris Elba was War Machine from the beginning. Too bad he settled for a minor role in Thor.
Good to know that Terence is cool about it. I liked him better as Rhodes. In fact, and as phenomenally awesome as Mark Ruffalo is, it always bothers me that we saw a different Bruce Banner in the MCU. I hate recasts. That being said, I always thought it would have been amazing if Idris Elba was War Machine from the beginning. Too bad he settled for a minor role in Thor.
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8:24PM on 03/18/2013
I dunno, but reading between the lines it seems like Terence Howard's agent is all about the $$$$. Howard himself seems philosophical about it and doesn't appear to harbour any bad blood, which is cool. (After all, it seems like he did ok financially anyway.)

Howard was good in the first one. Cheadle was good in the second one. The strength of Iron Man doesn't lie in the character of James Rhodes, it's in Downey, who was perfectly cast from the start.
I dunno, but reading between the lines it seems like Terence Howard's agent is all about the $$$$. Howard himself seems philosophical about it and doesn't appear to harbour any bad blood, which is cool. (After all, it seems like he did ok financially anyway.)

Howard was good in the first one. Cheadle was good in the second one. The strength of Iron Man doesn't lie in the character of James Rhodes, it's in Downey, who was perfectly cast from the start.
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6:51PM on 03/18/2013

Re-casting is never a good idea

When you re-cast somebody, the new actor has to re-establish the character again and that's not something you want in the sequel. I think Maggie Gyllenhaal is a much better actress than Katie Holmes but she didn't have enough time to put her print on Rachel Dawes for her death to mean something. Similarly, Don Cheadle could've been great with War Machine but not having the first movie to play the character worked against him in the end.
When you re-cast somebody, the new actor has to re-establish the character again and that's not something you want in the sequel. I think Maggie Gyllenhaal is a much better actress than Katie Holmes but she didn't have enough time to put her print on Rachel Dawes for her death to mean something. Similarly, Don Cheadle could've been great with War Machine but not having the first movie to play the character worked against him in the end.
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4:09PM on 03/18/2013
8 million? That's for the three movies, right?
8 million? That's for the three movies, right?
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4:05PM on 03/18/2013

Still; better than cheadle

I liked th in the role as rhody just because he has more personality
I liked th in the role as rhody just because he has more personality
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3:33PM on 03/18/2013

Howard Was a Better Choice.

Terrence Howard was, and still is, the better choice for the Rhodes character simply for his physical appearance. Never mind that his portrayal was more charismatic than Don's as well as more rounded. The fact that Howard is, physically, a bigger person and fit better into the character than Don did is all the proof needed. Marvel/Paramount screwing him out of his paycheck is their loss. Congratulations, Terrence!
Terrence Howard was, and still is, the better choice for the Rhodes character simply for his physical appearance. Never mind that his portrayal was more charismatic than Don's as well as more rounded. The fact that Howard is, physically, a bigger person and fit better into the character than Don did is all the proof needed. Marvel/Paramount screwing him out of his paycheck is their loss. Congratulations, Terrence!
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2:55PM on 03/18/2013
This switch still bothers me till this day. I thought Howard was awesome. Cheadle is a wonderful actor but I think Howard was a better fit for the role. Really, really wish this didn't happen and hate when they recast mid-series. YES, i was upset about this and Ed Norton, even though Ruffalo did a decent job.
This switch still bothers me till this day. I thought Howard was awesome. Cheadle is a wonderful actor but I think Howard was a better fit for the role. Really, really wish this didn't happen and hate when they recast mid-series. YES, i was upset about this and Ed Norton, even though Ruffalo did a decent job.
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1:44PM on 03/18/2013
I still think Jamie Foxx would have been the best Rhodey. Cheadle is cool and all, but I don't buy him as a soldier.
I still think Jamie Foxx would have been the best Rhodey. Cheadle is cool and all, but I don't buy him as a soldier.
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1:18PM on 03/18/2013
Glad to hear Howard talking about the situation in a light friendly way as oppose to being bitter. I thought he was perfect casting for Rhodey and I thought he gave a great performance and had great chemistry with Downey Jr. So I was disappointed that Howard didn't reprise the role for the future sequels.

I have enjoyed Cheadle in the role and he's just as good as Howard was playing Rhodey. I just thought Cheadle wasn't given enough to do in Iron Man 2, which doesn't seem to be the case
Glad to hear Howard talking about the situation in a light friendly way as oppose to being bitter. I thought he was perfect casting for Rhodey and I thought he gave a great performance and had great chemistry with Downey Jr. So I was disappointed that Howard didn't reprise the role for the future sequels.

I have enjoyed Cheadle in the role and he's just as good as Howard was playing Rhodey. I just thought Cheadle wasn't given enough to do in Iron Man 2, which doesn't seem to be the case this time around with Iron Man 3.
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12:52PM on 03/18/2013
I like Don better than Terrence. Terrence always seemed to me as kind of a one-dimensional actor, and really the only scene in Iron Man I kind of liked him in was the plane/stripper pole scene. Even then, he was kind of bad at playing drunk. Don seems more like Rhodey in the comics, where he'll only take so much shit from Tony before he tells Tony where to go.
I like Don better than Terrence. Terrence always seemed to me as kind of a one-dimensional actor, and really the only scene in Iron Man I kind of liked him in was the plane/stripper pole scene. Even then, he was kind of bad at playing drunk. Don seems more like Rhodey in the comics, where he'll only take so much shit from Tony before he tells Tony where to go.
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+10
12:48PM on 03/18/2013
I too like Howard for the role. There's just this chemistry between him and Downey, Jr. in the first Iron Man, particularly the scene where both of them were flying to weapon testing site via Tony's private jet in which he got Rhodes drunk. Tony and James Rhodes aren't just colleagues but they're friends and that scene proved that.
I too like Howard for the role. There's just this chemistry between him and Downey, Jr. in the first Iron Man, particularly the scene where both of them were flying to weapon testing site via Tony's private jet in which he got Rhodes drunk. Tony and James Rhodes aren't just colleagues but they're friends and that scene proved that.
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12:42PM on 03/18/2013
Decent of him to be so good-natured about it. I thought Howard was way better in the role.
Decent of him to be so good-natured about it. I thought Howard was way better in the role.
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+21
12:42PM on 03/18/2013

I'm still bummed that this happened.

I liked Howard far more than I liked Cheadle in the role.
I liked Howard far more than I liked Cheadle in the role.
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12:41PM on 03/18/2013
I love Don as an actor, I think he's brilliant. However, I thought Howard was the better actor for the role. Howard brought a lot more charm to the role than Don did. Howard could switch from bring serious and content to charismatic and lighthearted. I only saw Don as a serious looking actor who didn't give much expression to his character.

Also, it's like switching the actor of Han Solo in the second movie, it just feels weird in general having a different actor. Same with Maggie G, in TDK.
I love Don as an actor, I think he's brilliant. However, I thought Howard was the better actor for the role. Howard brought a lot more charm to the role than Don did. Howard could switch from bring serious and content to charismatic and lighthearted. I only saw Don as a serious looking actor who didn't give much expression to his character.

Also, it's like switching the actor of Han Solo in the second movie, it just feels weird in general having a different actor. Same with Maggie G, in TDK.
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12:48PM on 03/18/2013
Hmm, I can't seem to edit my comments anymore. Wanted to fix spelling.

EDIT: Nevermind, heh.
Hmm, I can't seem to edit my comments anymore. Wanted to fix spelling.

EDIT: Nevermind, heh.
+22
12:32PM on 03/18/2013
Doctorate in Chemical Engineering? Props.
Doctorate in Chemical Engineering? Props.
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