Robert Downey Jr. says he has no regrets about wearing 'blackface' in 'Tropic Thunder'

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By VT

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In many ways, the 2008 movie Tropic Thunder was every bit as ahead-of-the-curve as it was controversial upon its release. The story centers around a group of actors on the set of a war movie, who end up fighting a genuine drug ring in the jungle.

However, it was the character of Kirk Lazarus, played by Robert Downey Jr, who made moviegoers uneasy - a pretentious method actor, who darkens his skin for his portrayal of the black character Sergeant Lincoln Osiris.

Take a look at Robert Downey Jr's performance in the trailer below:
[[jwplayerwidget||https://content.jwplatform.com/videos/jA1Iu8gi-dkXnENEs.mp4||jA1Iu8gi]]

Given how much discussion there has been around whitewashing over the last decade, you might be forgiven for thinking that Downey Jr's performance would have been a PR nightmare in hindsight. However, in a recent appearance on Joe Rogan's podcast, the Iron Man star claimed he has no regrets about the part.

Commenting on the role, Downey stated: "When Ben called and said 'hey I'm doing this thing,' I think Sean Penn had passed on it or something like that—possibly wisely. And I thought, 'Yeah… I'll do that after Iron Man.' And then I started thinking, 'This is a terrible idea; wait a minute.'''

[[instagramwidget||https://www.instagram.com/p/B6aEfrNAKwH/]]

He continued: "Then I thought, 'Well, hold on, dude, get real here, where is your heart?' And my heart is, A: I get to be black for a summer in my mind, so there's something in it for me. The other thing is, I get to hold up to nature the insane self-involved hypocrisy of artists and what they think they're allowed to do on occasion—just my opinion."

He added: "Ben, who is a master artist and director, probably the closest thing to Charlie Chaplin that I've experienced... he knew exactly what the vision for this was; he executed it. It was impossible to not have it be an offensive nightmare of a movie, and 90 percent of my black friends are like, 'Dude, that was great.''

[[instagramwidget||https://www.instagram.com/p/B7NL5k2lPtj/]]

He also told Rogan: "There's a morality clause here on this planet. And it's a big price to pay, and I think having a moral psychology is job one. So sometimes you've just gotta go, 'Yeah, I effed up.' Again, not in my defense, but Tropic Thunder was about how wrong that is. So I take exception."

Robert Downey Jr. says he has no regrets about wearing 'blackface' in 'Tropic Thunder'

vt-author-image

By VT

Article saved!Article saved!

In many ways, the 2008 movie Tropic Thunder was every bit as ahead-of-the-curve as it was controversial upon its release. The story centers around a group of actors on the set of a war movie, who end up fighting a genuine drug ring in the jungle.

However, it was the character of Kirk Lazarus, played by Robert Downey Jr, who made moviegoers uneasy - a pretentious method actor, who darkens his skin for his portrayal of the black character Sergeant Lincoln Osiris.

Take a look at Robert Downey Jr's performance in the trailer below:
[[jwplayerwidget||https://content.jwplatform.com/videos/jA1Iu8gi-dkXnENEs.mp4||jA1Iu8gi]]

Given how much discussion there has been around whitewashing over the last decade, you might be forgiven for thinking that Downey Jr's performance would have been a PR nightmare in hindsight. However, in a recent appearance on Joe Rogan's podcast, the Iron Man star claimed he has no regrets about the part.

Commenting on the role, Downey stated: "When Ben called and said 'hey I'm doing this thing,' I think Sean Penn had passed on it or something like that—possibly wisely. And I thought, 'Yeah… I'll do that after Iron Man.' And then I started thinking, 'This is a terrible idea; wait a minute.'''

[[instagramwidget||https://www.instagram.com/p/B6aEfrNAKwH/]]

He continued: "Then I thought, 'Well, hold on, dude, get real here, where is your heart?' And my heart is, A: I get to be black for a summer in my mind, so there's something in it for me. The other thing is, I get to hold up to nature the insane self-involved hypocrisy of artists and what they think they're allowed to do on occasion—just my opinion."

He added: "Ben, who is a master artist and director, probably the closest thing to Charlie Chaplin that I've experienced... he knew exactly what the vision for this was; he executed it. It was impossible to not have it be an offensive nightmare of a movie, and 90 percent of my black friends are like, 'Dude, that was great.''

[[instagramwidget||https://www.instagram.com/p/B7NL5k2lPtj/]]

He also told Rogan: "There's a morality clause here on this planet. And it's a big price to pay, and I think having a moral psychology is job one. So sometimes you've just gotta go, 'Yeah, I effed up.' Again, not in my defense, but Tropic Thunder was about how wrong that is. So I take exception."