Don Cheadle unexpectedly replaced Howard in the role of James Rhodes after the first Iron Man film made nearly $100 million in its opening weekend. Howard said he was originally contracted for three films, but was "pushed" out by Downey's ballooning salary.
“It turns out that the person that I helped become Iron Man, when it was time to… re-up for the second one took the money that was supposed to go to me and pushed me out,” the 44-year-old Prisoners star said. “We did a three-picture deal. So that means, you did the deal ahead of time. It was going to be a certain amount for the first one, a certain amount for the second, certain amount for the third."
"They came to me [for] the second and said, 'We will pay you one-eighth of what we contractually had for you, because we think the second one will be successful with or without you.' And I called my friend that I helped get the first job, and he didn’t call me back for three months," Howard continued.
Howard was more conciliatory back in 2010, when he told E! News that he remained on good terms with Downey and director Jon Favreau.
"Despite the customary idea or thought that there's some controversy, it was a wonderful split and I know that they've done well," he said at the time. "Robert Downey Jr. was born to play that part and it was wonderful that that part has given him the stature that he was supposed to hold before."
Howard's latest film, The Best Man Holiday, opened Friday.
[The Hollywood Reporter, Variety]