Robert Downey Jr.’s unrecognizable transformation for first role after Oppenheimer Oscar win will make your jaw drop

After Sunday, March 10, Robert Downey Jr. can officially add “Oscar winner” to the phrase “genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist” after a career spanning over four decades.

The star, 58, picked up the trophy for Best Supporting Actor at the 96th Academy Awards for his turn in Oppenheimer, one of seven wins for the Christopher Nolan film that night.

And it looks like the star’s already back to work as his new projects pick up momentum following his win, and he’s coming right back to screens with The Sympathizer.

Mahershala Ali, Christoph Waltz, Tim Robbins, Robert Downey Jr., winner of the Best Actor in a Supporting Role award for “Oppenheimer”, Ke Huy Quan, and Sam Rockwell pose in the press room during the 96th Annual Academy Awards at Ovation Hollywood on March 10, 2024 in Hollywood, California.© Getty Images
Robert Downey Jr. won his very first Oscar on Sunday night

The HBO miniseries is based on the 2015 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name by Viet Thanh Nguyen in which Robert plays four different characters, all antagonistic, requiring him to transform drastically.

A first glimpse of the series was shared in May of 2023, in which Robert and series lead Hoa Xuande are seen, with the newly minted Academy Award winner sporting short copper-tinted hair on a bald cap with aged and tanned skin for just one of his characters.

Fans were stunned by the transformation, leaving comments that read: “THIS IS NOT ROBERT. I CAN’T BELIEVE,” and: “RDJ is back as the dude, playing the dude, disguised as another dude!!!” as well as: “I want to watch this series as soon as possible!” The series also stars Fred Nguyen Khan, Toan Le, Ky Duyen, and Sandra Oh and is being helmed by Oldboy filmmaker Park Chan-wook.

MORE: Meet Robert Downey Jr.’s wife Susan and rarely-seen three children who are following in his footsteps

In fact, Robert recruited his two younger kids Avri and Exton in 2022 to shave his head for the role, which you can watch in the home video below…

Robert Downey Jr.’s kids shave his head

The plot of the book on GoodReads states: “It is April 1975, and Saigon is in chaos. At his villa, a general of the South Vietnamese army is drinking whiskey and, with the help of his trusted captain, drawing up a list of those who will be given passage aboard the last flights out of the country. 

MORE: Robert Downey Jr. recalls terrifying prison stint: ‘The most dangerous place I’ve ever been’

“The general and his compatriots start a new life in Los Angeles, unaware that one among their number, the captain, is secretly observing and reporting on the group to a higher-up in the Viet Cong. The Sympathizer is the story of this captain: a man brought up by an absent French father and a poor Vietnamese mother, a man who went to university in America, but returned to Vietnam to fight for the Communist cause.”

Oppenheimer (2023) directed by Christopher Nolan and starring Robert Downey Jr as Lewis Strauss. The story of American scientist, J. Robert Oppenheimer, and his role in the development of the atomic bomb. Credit: BFA / Melinda Sue Gordon / Universal Pictures© BFA/Melinda Sue Gordon/Universal Pictures
The role continues the actor’s shift towards more transformative parts

In a new interview with People, Robert spoke about his transformation for his upcoming role, adding: “It wasn’t particularly subtle, it wasn’t meant to be, but I’m already proud of what I’ve seen.”

MORE: Meet Messi – the dog that stole the show at the Oscars with Robert Downey Jr. and Ryan Gosling

Robert and his wife Susan Downey are co-producing the miniseries through Team Downey, which was established in 2010, and The Sympathizer will premiere on Max on April 14.

Susan's influence, along with therapy, meditation, and martial arts, helped Robert rebuild his life and career.© Getty Images
Robert and Susan’s production company, Team Downey, is co-producing the miniseries

“We talk about it all the time,” he told the publication about collaborating with his wife. “There’s so many more things we want to do together and achieve together and play together, create together.”

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