As part of the thin film development for the Athena X-ray telescope and X-ray optics in general, we investigated the residual stress in iridium and chromium thin films deposited using direct current magnetron sputtering. Residual stresses in thin films can affect the performance and adhesion properties of the fabricated thin film coated X-ray optics. We characterized the thin films using X-ray reflectometry to determine the thin film thicknesses and stylus profilometry to determine the residual film stresses. To counterbalance the compressive stress identified in the iridium thin films, we introduced a chromium thin film layer for which the residual stress is tensile beneath the iridium film. However, chromium thin films are known to exhibit a grainy growth resulting in a high surface roughness which was also observed in this work. In this paper, we evaluated the effect on the iridium surface roughness when introducing a chromium underlayer and discussed the effect on the X-ray optics performance.