According to Howard, the studio had always been keen on Cheadle for the role.
“Don [ Cheadle ] and Robert [ Downey Jr. ] get along well,” said Howard of the casting process for the first film. “Initially, they wanted Don for that role, but my agent pushed me in. So I never had any beef with Don about it.”
On the subject of his deal, Howard explained: “[ I was paid ] about $4.5m [ for the first film ],” said Howard. “The second time, [ the studio ] said ‘We think the movie will be successful with or without you. So, instead of the $8m that we said we were gonna pay you, we’re going to let you come back for a million dollars.’
“We did a three-picture deal already, [ but ] I forgot, I didn’t know it wasn’t a mutually binding contract; it was only beneficial for them and they could bring me back or not. They can honour it or not.”
Which sounds pretty reasonable on Howard’s part. It’s a shame that the move resulted in an inconsistency in the Iron Man universe, but thanks to the aforementioned chemistry between Cheadle and RDJ, it was a pretty smooth transition. Howard also added that the shift allowed him to go off complete his doctorate in Chemical Engineering.
In any case, Cheadle will star alongside Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow and Ben Kingsley when Iron Man 3 opens in the UK on 3 May 2013.