Robert Downey Jr. accepted his controversial role in Tropic Thunder to call out the “insane self-involved hypocrisy” of fellow actors.
Ben Stiller’s 2008 satirical comedy follows a group of actors who are making a Vietnam War movie, and the Iron Man star wore blackface to play Australian method actor Kirk Lazarus, who underwent “pigmentation alteration” surgery to play a fictional African-American soldier.
It caused an outcry when it was released more than 10 years ago, and in a recent interview on The Joe Rogan Experience podcast, Robert confessed he was originally concerned about accepting the role.
“When Ben called and said, ‘Hey I’m doing this thing’ – you know I think Sean Penn had passed on it or something. Possibly wisely. And I thought, ‘Yeah, I’ll do that and I’ll do that after Iron Man.’ Then I started thinking, ‘This is a terrible idea, wait a minute,'” he explained.
He told host Joe that he listened to his heart, and while he was looking forward to “being black” for a summer, he wanted to use the role of Kirk Lazarus to call out “self-involved” actors.
“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 shared.
However, the 54-year-old insisted he understood those who took issue with the controversial character.
“Ninety per cent of my black friends were like, ‘Dude, that was great’… I can’t disagree with (the other 10 per cent), but I know where my heart lies,” he added. “I think that it’s never an excuse to do something that’s out of place and out of its time, but to me it was a blasting cap on (the issue).
“Sometimes, you just gotta go, ‘Yeah I effed up.’ In my defence, Tropic Thunder is about how wrong (blackface) is, so I take exception.”
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