In a heartfelt, and often hilarious, conversation with his former high school classmate, Robert Downey Jr. sat opposite Rob Lowe in a new installment of Rob’s Literally podcast.

In talking about his awards run with Oppenheimer, recent Golden Globe winner Downey explained how bad reviews for the bomb Dolittle, a movie he starred in and produced, led him to career heights with Christopher Nolan‘s atomic bomb movie.

“I felt so exposed after being in the cocoon of Marvel where I think I did some of the best work I will ever do, but it went a little bit unnoticed because of the genre,” Downey says.

In the end, the actor “did myself a favor, because the rug was pulled so definitively out from underneath me and all the things that I was leaning on as opposed to what my understanding of confidence and security was — boy did they evaporate. And it rendered me teachable.”

Downey adds, “And the crazy thing is they say when the student is ready, the Nolan will come — I mean, the teacher will come. And that’s what happened.”

Nolan had expressed to The New York Times Magazine that he told RDJ he wanted him free of his “usual go-to things” — the “fast-talking, charming” persona — to play Lewis Strauss, the foil to Cillian Murphy‘s J. Robert Oppenheimer.

The podcast began with Lowe and Downey reminiscing about meeting at Santa Monica High School in the early ’80s, when Lowe was already a successful young actor.

“I wanna to say I was jealous, but that’s not deep enough,” Downey said, cracking up Lowe.

While Lowe had a career and good attendance, Downey, on the other hand, “was a hot mess,” both actors recalled with a laugh.

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