Robert Downey Jr. vs. Benicio del Toro: Who is Our Generation's Greatest Mushmouth?

When reviewing Sherlock Holmes, Variety critic Todd McCarthy noted of Robert Downey Jr.: "There are times when his well-accented Britspeak reaches such basso depths that his dialogue can't be fully understood." And here I thought I was the only one! For the first half-hour, I often scratched my head at Downey Jr.'s low-register rumblings, and I had the same problem with him occasionally in Iron Man. Still, does Downey Jr. stand a chance of stealing the crown from the Monarch of Mumble, Benicio del Toro? Movieline presents the evidence, but the final decision is up to you.


Robert Downey Jr.: Iron Man, where some of Downey Jr.'s muttered asides would have to be deciphered by either Gwyneth Paltrow's glares (he said something flippant!) or an AC/DC music cue (he said something triumphant!).

Benicio del Toro: The Usual Suspects, where del Toro's mushmouthed take on Fenster convinced costar Stephen Baldwin that he was having an epileptic fit.


Robert Downey Jr.: You might think that going English in Sherlock Holmes would spur Downey Jr. to enunciate, but his initial dialogue readings are so opaque that it falls to Jude Law to essentially repeat his lines for clarification.

Benicio del Toro: del Toro's lupine nature may make him an ideal fit for the title character in The Wolfman, but he's not facile enough to adopt the British accent the rest of the cast uses. Fortunately, though del Toro is supposed to be playing the son of Anthony Hopkins, his American mumbling was preserved courtesy of a script rewrite.


Robert Downey Jr.: I expect that Downey Jr. will keep the sotto voce mumble alive in Iron Man 2, though it remains to be seen if the mumble can hold its own opposite Zach Gaifiankis in the upcoming comedy Due Date.

Benicio del Toro: del Toro is practically playing himself in Sofia Coppola's Somewhere, but I'm really curious to see if he'll make Moe a mushmouth when The Three Stooges finally gets off the ground.

Robert Downey Jr. vs. Benicio del Toro: Who is Our Generation's Greatest Mushmouth?(answers)


  • SunnydaZe says:

    How about Tropic Thunder? Especially the opening when Downey is yelling at everyone to get in the chopper and something about a "hiney hoe"?
    I finally turned on the subtitles to see what he was saying and then proceeded to entertain myself for about an hour re-watching the scene over and over in ever language available on the DVD. My favorite was definitely French... But it always is. The French dub is always so over-the-top passionate> Like everything is Shakespeare.

  • Speedy says:

    Re: The Wolfman - That was no rewrite; the very American Lon Chaney, Jr. was the veddy British Claude Rains' son in the original. I think this was explained as a result of Jr.'s time in the US as a student or something.

  • soprana says:

    please, robert downey is god

  • Giselle says:

    Psh, if you can't understand RDJ you need to get your ears checked. He's one of the greatest actors of all time. Who's del Toro anyway?

  • Liz Lemonazi says:

    Can you really write about mushmouths and not mention the greatest pioneer of mumble, Marlon Brando? RDJ's got nothing on him.

  • annonomously says:

    Um, I can understand what Robert Downey Jr is saying in every movie he makes and I started seeing him in theaters with Weird Science. Maybe you just need to get your hearing aide fixed???? Robert Downey Jr. is also one of the greatest actors of all time. I feel he has a nice soothing voice. Maybe you just can't understand a New York accent, or a British accent, or an African American one etc. You need to mix with the people outside your little world more. My family is from the South, I guess you don't understand that one either????

  • Lucas says:

    I have to agree. I have never had trouble hearing either one of them. Even with Del Toro let the accent hang way out. Excluding the Usual Suspects where he did do a mushmouth as part of the character.
    I won't say that it's anyone's hearing, the sound system in the theatre or what cause I don't know and don't care to be cheeky.

  • Lila says:

    I love them both, but Benicio's got a lock on this one.

  • Cody says:

    Downey should replace Deltoro in the Three Stooges movie. LMAO

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