Robert Downey Jr defends wearing blackface in 'Tropic Thunder'

12:38 PM Jan 24, 2020 | PTI |

Los Angeles: Actor Robert Downey Jr says he did not regret wearing blackface in the 2008 movie “Tropic Thunder” as he believes his act started a conversation around the issue.


In the Ben Stiller-directed movie, Downey Jr portrayed Kirk Lazarus, an Australian actor who darkens his skin to authentically pull off the role of a black soldier in a war film.

Appearing on “The Joe Rogan Experience” podcast, the 54-year-old actor made a case for his portrayal, arguing that it was not problematic in any way.

“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 blasted the cap on (the issue),” Downey Jr said.

“I think having moral psychology is job one. Sometimes, you just gotta go, Yeah I effed up.’ In my defense, ‘Tropic Thunder’ is about how wrong [blackface] is, so I take exception,” he added.


The “Avengers: Endgame” star said the majority of his black friends had no problem with the part but there were some people who had an issue with it.

“(Ben) 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 were like, ‘Dude, that was great.’ I can’t disagree with (the other 10 percent), but I know where my heart lies,” Downey Jr added.

Downey also revealed that his mother Elsie Ford had cautioned him against taking up the part.

He said, “My mother was horrified. ‘Bobby, I’m telling ya, I have a bad feeling about this.’ I was like, Yeah me too, mom.”

“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’,” the actor.

“Tropic Thunder” was one of the films that re-established Downey Jr in Hollywood. The film earned him nominations at the Academy Awards, BAFTAs and Screen Actors Guild Awards.


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