Though Robert Downey, Jr. was the one being celebrated for his body of work by the British film and television community based in Los Angeles, The Judge star made a point to pay a loving tribute to his pregnant wife and soon-to-be-born daughter.
“It’s going to be a good date night,” Downey, 49, told PEOPLE as he and his very expectant wife and film producing partner Susan, 40, arrived at the BAFTA Los Angeles Jaguar Britannia Awards in Beverly Hills on Thursday, where he was receiving the Stanley Kubrick Britannia Award for Excellence in Film. The actor was in high spirits squiring his wife down the red carper, and was looking forward to the imminent birth of their daughter (the Downeys are already parents to son Exton, 2½, and Downey is father to 21-year-old son Indio from a previous marriage).
“It’s just the uncertainty of how nowadays you have all these things where you think you have much more of an understanding of what you’re going to get,” said Downey. “And then this little soul lets herself be known to you, and it’s just like: you don’t know anything. It’s great!”
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Downey decided to make his good feelings even more public during the awards ceremony, after he was presented his award on stage by his Iron Man and Chef director Jon Favreau and The Soloist costar Jamie Foxx following video tributes from colleagues including Ben Stiller, Samuel L. Jackson, Jude Law, Vera Farmiga and Robert Duvall.
In his acceptance speech Downey singled out his wife, “who is literally about to pop,” asking her to stand and show off her frame to the crowd. “How is she still so darn pretty and functional and mood-stable?” he told the crowd before joking that “the second pregnancy has been extraordinarily tough for me. Self-prescribed mandatory bed rest was of some benefit. At least my milk is finally coming in.”
“Honestly, I think Susan Downey is extremely manipulative and clairvoyant,” said actors, suggesting that the timing of the award as well as other recent career good fortunes — including recent announcements that he would return as Tony Stark for three additional Marvel superhero films beyond next year’s Avengers: Age of Ultron — were craftily maneuvered by his wife to coincide with their delivery date.
“For the safety of herself and others, I firmly believe that she rigged it for me to get this thing so I’ll be distracted by the implications just long enough for her to get through labor and deliver our baby girl,” he said. “She trusts [childbirth] will be a breeze compared to developing projects with me when I’m coffeed up, when I’m an ‘idea machine.’ Or worse yet, when I’m right because ‘I made it! I’m powerful! People like me! If this is the mafia, you know, I’m an earner.'”
“Mrs. Downey, any day now when you’re in the throes of birthing, if you need to yell at me or scratch me, scratch my face or blind me, it’s fine,” he told her. “Because, yes, I did that to you.”
Longtime friend Foxx told the crowd about how Downey’s particular sensitivity toward children who see him as the superhero they admire onscreen was very apparent when the Ray star sheepishly conveyed a request from his then-4-year-old daughter to have “Iron Man” show up at her birthday party with a day’s notice.
“He texts back, he says, “Is noon, good?” said Foxx, who still wasn’t convinced his pal would show. “All of my homies and everybody was there, and he drives up — and he has a basket of Iron Man stuff. Passed it out to my daughter, all her friends. And then he hung out. He chilled. People asked him questions. He took pictures. That’s what it’s really all about.”
On stage, Downey acknowledged the importance of being the hero kids need at times. “If you could be in my skin when a sick kid gets a set visit to Stark Tower, and he believes that you can help him walk or run or not be in a complicated surgery, or that she might survive to see another Christmas if you can put your heads together and machine something in the lab, you feel that sense of reward and service that says, you know, that you’d do this for free,” said the star.
Among Downey’s fellow honorees at the Britannia Awards were his Avengers costar Mark Ruffalo, Emma Watson, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Dame Judi Dench and filmmaker Mike Leigh, and the evening also featured a video appearance by Prince William, paying tribute to the late filmmaker Lord Richard Attenborough, who also directed Downey in Chaplin.
— Scott Huver