Krishnan Guru-Murthy, the Channel 4 journalist who prompted the Avengers‘ Robert Downey Jr. to walk out of an interview after “awkward” questions, has defended his line of questions, saying he prepared for the Robert Downey Jr. the way he normally prepares for an interview.
“I prepare for Hollywood actor interviews the same way as any other, by reading and watching what people have said before.”
Guru-Murthy went on to say that since Downey Jr. had spoken about his former drug use in the past, and since Guru-Murthy thought that it would be interesting to Channel 4s audience, he decided to question the Avengers star about it.
“There were two things from past interviews that seemed interesting for a Channel 4 News audience: Downey had told the New York Times he couldn’t go from a $2,000-a-night hotel suite to prison and come out a liberal, and he’d suggested to Vanity Fair that drug abuse had an inherited element.”
“None of it should have come as a surprise, but I nonetheless offered him two opportunities to say: ‘I’d rather not talk about this stuff.’ He could have engaged more with the earlier questions and I’d have never had time for the ones he didn’t like. He could have played a dead bat with the serious stuff and the whole thing might have been dropped from the running order as too dull.”
Guru-Murthy also said that the interview was not a “promotional video” for the new Avengers movie, Avengers: Age of Ultron, which Downey Jr. is currently on a promotional tour to talk about.
“We don’t do promotional interviews on Channel 4 News. We agree with PR people that as well as talking about a new movie for a while we want to ask wider ranging questions on relatively serious topics, and we don’t guarantee to run any answers in particular. When Robert Downey Jr’s PR man rang up asking what we wanted to talk about, we said we had no particular agenda but would ask about the new Avengers superhero movie and his recovery from jail and drug abuse to Hollywood stardom.”
Writing for The Guardian about the interview, Guru-Murthy also referenced a past interview with Quentin Tarantino, who, at the time was promoting Django Unchained, that went downhill almost as quickly as his interview with Robert Downey Jr. Guru-Murthy said that, as a journalist he wasn’t there to promote the new Avengers movie, but Robery Downey Jr was.
“Therein lies the problem. The same one I’d faced with Quentin Tarantino who’d told me that our encounter was ‘a commercial for my movie’ when I wanted to also ask about violence in cinema because U.S. politicians were debating it that day following the Sandy Hook massacre.”