“They must’ve misread that”: Robert Downey Jr. Couldn’t Believe Al Pacino Won the Oscar Over Him Despite Incredible Role in ‘Chaplin’

Iron Man star Robert Downey Jr. talked about how shocked he was to see Al Pacino win Best Actor at the 65th Academy Awards instead of him for his role in Chaplin (1992).

robert downey jr. couldn’t believe al pacino won the oscar over him despite incredible role in ‘chaplin’


  • Robert Downey Jr., currently speculated to be in the running for Best Supporting Actor in the 2024 Oscars, reflected on his first Academy Award nomination for Chaplin (1992).
  • Looking back at the event, the Iron Man star revealed his disbelief when Al Pacino won the Best Actor award for his performance in Scent of a Woman.
  • With two separate nominations and zero Oscar wins, 2024 may be the year for the movie actor to secure the accolade for his Oppenheimer performance.
Show More
Featured Video

One of the most compelling and likely candidates for this year’s Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor is Robert Downey Jr. for his magnetic performance in Oppenheimer. It is currently speculated that this will bring him his first, long overdue, well-deserved Oscar. It wouldn’t, of course, mark the first instance of him becoming one of the many nominees at the venerated award show. The actor has earned nominations for Best Actor for Chaplin (1992) and Best Supporting Actor for Tropic Thunder (2008).

Robert Downey Jr. won best supporting actor for his role as Lewis Strauss in Oppenheimer
Robert Downey Jr. as Lewis Strauss in Oppenheimer (2023) dir. Christopher Nolan

Read more: Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’ Broke a Record That Even Surpasses Avengers: Endgame!

Alas, the star couldn’t revel in the triumph of an Oscar both times. Now, after many years, during a recent appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Downey Jr. revealed what he felt at the 65th Academy Awards when Hollywood veteran Al Pacino snagged the prize for Scent of a Woman over a first-time nominee, who had delivered one of the finest performances in Richard Attenborough-helmed Chaplin.


The actor disclosed, exhibiting his signature effortless humor, that he assumed the presenters had misread the winning name!

Robert Downey Jr. Felt Convinced He Would Win An Oscar Over Al Pacino

Robert Downey Jr. couldn't believe Al Pacino won an Oscar over him! Credit: Jimmy Kimmel Live
Robert Downey Jr. couldn’t believe Al Pacino won an Oscar over him! Credit: Jimmy Kimmel Live

Following his recent Golden Globes victory in the Best Supporting Actor category for his performance in Oppenheimer, the Hollywood sensation of Iron Man fame, appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live. He reflected on his first Oscar nomination in 1993 while addressing the prospects of a—fingers crossed—Oscar win in 2024.

For his exuberant depiction of the esteemed real-life comic actor Charlie Chaplin in the eponymous 1992 box office bomb helmed by Richard Attenborough, Robert Downey Jr. was presented his first Academy Award nomination.


Despite the endeavor generating a mixed response, Downey Jr.’s performance was enthusiastically received. Hence, the Best Actor nomination at the 65th Academy Awards. Unfortunately, even the then-young star’s charismatic magnificence, praise-worthy ambition, and on-screen pull couldn’t surpass the Oscar buzz surrounding Al Pacino‘s embodiment of Lt. Col. Frank Slade in Scent of a Woman (1992).

The Godfather alum won the accolade (after seven fruitless nominations throughout his decorated career), and that was that.

Chaplin (1992) dir. Richard Attenborough
Chaplin (1992) dir. Richard Attenborough

Related: Oppenheimer Made Robert Downey Jr. Forget Everything ‘Iron Man’ Stood For


Now, decades later, Robert Downey Jr. has shared what he underwent when the incident transpired, affirming he felt confident about winning over the other nominees, including veteran actor Pacino. This—whether you call it self-assurance or over-confidence—was fueled by the ambition governing his 20s. Upon recalling it, the Oppenheimer star acknowledged (albeit lightheartedly) how naïve he had been in his younger years and how he would soon realize how harsh life and its reality can be.

Following was his statement:

“I just remember … ‘And the Oscars go to … Al Pacino!’ And I was like, they must have misread that. When you’re 26, you’re so… [clenches fists] When you’re in your twenties, you’re like, ‘Everything’s going to go my way, forever!’ And then, life kicks you… in the sack.”

When show host Kimmel asked the actor to confirm if he felt convinced about winning until the last minute before hearing Al Pacino’s name, RDJ jokingly concluded, “Nobody else did except me. [It] made it even weirder! They’re like, ‘The winner is…’ and people are like, ‘Sit down, sit down.'”


1993 and 2009 (with RDJ’s Tropic Thunder nomination) may not have been the star’s years for an Oscar win, but 2024 appears to hold promise.

From Iron To Gold—Can Robert Downey Jr. Finally Win An Oscar?

Robert Downey Jr. was terrific as Lewis Strauss!
Robert Downey Jr. was terrific as Lewis Strauss!

RDJ’s depiction of Lewis Strauss in Nolan’s magnum opus has received universal praise, and having claimed the Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture award at the Golden Globes already, an Oscar may not be a far-fetched dream. However, one must consider the other candidates potentially slated to compete with the star. The speculated nominees line-up for this year’s Best Supporting Actor category undoubtedly presents bold competition.

We are looking at RDJ facing another Hollywood veteran, Robert De Niro, whose sinister embodiment of William Hale in Killers of the Flower Moon was a masterclass in acting and one of his finest works in recent memory.


Then there’s Ryan Gosling‘s flashiest, highly-resonated-with stint as Ken in Greta Gerwig’s commercial triumph, Barbie. Todd Haynes’ spine-chillingly discomforting May December boasts a sturdy performance from Riverdale alum Charles Melton. And Yorgos Lanthimos’ unconventional sci-fi black comedy Poor Things is shining the spotlight on stars Mark Ruffalo and Willem Dafoe, with either likely to make the shortlist.

The (potential) Best Supporting Actor contenders RDJ may compete against.
The (potential) Best Supporting Actor contenders RDJ may compete against.

Read more: Robert Downey Jr. Obsessed With Two Other Roles He Thinks Are As Good As Iron Man!

Even with objective lenses, it’s challenging to discern the triumphing champion with the swathe of talent we’ve witnessed in these supporting figures. Nevertheless, Robert Downey Jr.’s Strauss is an enigmatic character in what feels like the role of a lifetime. His on-screen breathtaking metamorphosis felt authentic and magnetic, with the part boasting its flair, layers, and the in-between. A win for the star feels long overdue, and if what they say is true, then the third time’s the charm.


All will be revealed in time. Meanwhile, fans can expect the announcement of the nominees for the 96th Academy Awards on January 23, 2024. The much-anticipated ceremony is scheduled to air on March 10, 2024.


Written by Debdipta Bhattacharya

Articles Published: 659

Debdipta Bhattacharya is a content writer at FandomWire, where she has written more than 500 articles on various topics of interest. She possesses a sincere passion for popular culture, anime, film production, and the evolving world of YouTube and streaming culture which has allowed her to be a devoted and well-informed writer. Debdipta holds a bachelor's degree in Mass Communication. She has honed her skills and expertise in content writing with over two years of experience and strives to learn and grow daily.