‘Iron Man 3’ stars ride high points in careers

There’s something of the old married couple about Gwyneth Paltrow and Robert Downey Jr., though they’re married to other people.

They’ve known each other for 20 years, through bad times (his) and good (hers and now his, too).

They’re cozy and comfy sitting down together for an interview, shifting easily between talking about their Marvel Studios superhero sequel “Iron Man 3,” chatting up each other’s career and family and trading small talk about their little ailments.

“I think I picked up a little bacteria on the road,” Downey says of his trips promoting the film worldwide ahead of its U.S. debut this week. “No big deal.”

“In what part of your body?” Paltrow asks.

“Tum-tum,” Downey replies. “Travel’s tough when you’re not a kid anymore. You’ve got to take it really seriously.”

Both are taking everything seriously now, work, family, lifestyle. Downey and Paltrow are in enviable places among their fortysomething Hollywood peers.

At 48, he’s the great reclamation project of show business, rebounding from a fitful early career overshadowed by drug abuse and prison to become arguably the hottest leading man on the planet.

At 40, Paltrow’s diversified into a super-hyphenate. While slowing down on acting to raise her two children with her husband, Coldplay singer Chris Martin, Paltrow has just published her second cookbook and runs the lifestyles Web site Goop.com.

Paltrow has plenty of detractors, though. Critics questioned her designation by People magazine as the world’s most-beautiful woman, which came days after Star magazine named her the most-hated celebrity.

Downey and Paltrow are following “Iron Man 3” with smaller dramas, Paltrow starring opposite Antonio Banderas in the Pablo Picasso tale “33 Dias,” Downey joining Robert Duvall for the father-son story “The Judge.”

He also has plans for a third entry in his other franchise, “Sherlock Holmes,” though the future of “Iron Man,” Downey’s billionaire genius Tony Stark and Paltrow’s Gal-Friday-turned-girlfriend-and-CEO Pepper Potts are uncertain.

“Iron Man 3” hints that Tony might hang up his metal suits to focus on life with Pepper. Downey won’t tip his hand on the prospects.

Paltrow eagerly says she would come back for more “Iron Man.” Especially now that she’s getting into the thick of things.

In “Iron Man 3,” Pepper graduates from glorified personal assistant to running Tony’s empire, and Paltrow even gets to put on the Iron Man suit and mix it up in the action scenes.

“I seriously question all my career choices up to that point,” Paltrow says. “It’s like, what have I been doing in these highbrow frigging corset things? This is so much more fun.”

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