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Interview: Director Chris Smith Discusses How the Documentary ‘Sr.’ Came Together

Chris Smith has the distinction of having made my all-time favorite documentary with American Movie. So, it’s only an added benefit that he’s also crafted my favorite documentary of 2022 with Sr. His look at the late Robert Downey Sr. and his relationship not just with cinema, but with Robert Downey Jr. as well, was both incredibly touching as well as massively entertaining. With the movie in the running for awards attention, he and I recently sat down to talk about the doc. Today, you get to listen to the conversation for yourself.

Below, you can hear my chat with Smith. We split the time fairly equally between American Movie and Sr., but it’s in service of hearing more about how he crafts his docs. I was fascinated to hear about it, especially in terms of the manner in which Sr. ended up focusing on the father son relationship. Plus, who isn’t curious to know bout how RDJ first reacted to the work? It’s a good discussion, one that should make you eager to see a great documentary.

This here is some of what I had to say about Sr. from back at the New York Film Festival:

Director Chris Smith has previously made my favorite documentary of all-time in American Movie, so it’s no surprise that Sr. is a delight as well. Smith is just a fly on the wall, letting both men, but Sr. in particular, kind of lead the doc wherever it might go. That approach pays major dividends, for sure. Smith also is able to fill in just enough biographical material to clue anyone in who isn’t familiar with Downey Sr.’s work. It’s a deft style, fitting for the material and the man.


Here now is my interview with Sr. director Chris Smith. Enjoy:

Sr. is currently streaming on Netflix!


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Written by Joey Magidson

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