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Robert Downey Jr. Goes Black for New Role

A still from 'Tropic Thunder'


Courtesy MovieWeb.com

The above photo is a leaked still from the upcoming summer action movie Tropic Thunder.

Actors Jack Black (left) and Ben Stiller (right) star ... and that would be Robert Downey Jr. in the middle ... in blackface.

Why, you ask? Here's more from The Canadian Press:

Downey Jr. plays overly committed actor Kirk Lazarus, a white man cast to play a black soldier in a satire of the performing profession.

"If it's done right, it could be the type of role you called Peter Sellers to do 35 years ago," Downey told Entertainment Weekly magazine. "If you don't do it right, we're going to hell."

Stiller said he was "trying to push it as far as you can within reality," with the intent of satirizing over-the-top actors, not African-Americans.

"I had no idea how people would respond to it," Stiller told the magazine. But at a recent screening, black viewers liked the film, he said.

Downey explained that he kept the character from becoming a caricature because he "dove in with both feet."

"If I didn't feel it was morally sound," he said, "or that it would be easily misinterpreted that I'm just C. Thomas Howell in ("Soul Man"), I would've stayed home."

Well then.

Granted, it's hard to have a view on the movie and Downey Jr.'s role without first seeing it ... but should blackface be off-limits no matter what the intent?

Comments

 

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One of the other writers on Highbrid Nation wrote about Robert Downy playing a black man in Tropical Thunder. He worries that Al Sharpton might have something to say about it, lol. Honestly as a black person I think it's kinda cool that movie make-up has gotten to the point where you can make someone look like another race and if the pics I've seen of Robert Downy in costume are accurate than they did a really good job! Plus Robert is a very capable actor so I'm sure he wont come across as stereo typical or offensive. I could be wrong though.

Sent by Mike Belgrove | 12:37 PM | 3-7-2008

If anyone has a problem with this just remember two words...Eddie Murphy.

Sent by Charles | 8:00 PM | 3-7-2008

Yeah! I'm with you Charles. We as a people have to come correct or shut up. Eddie Murphy as a demonic black women did what DW Griffith could have only dreamed of minus the narrative and artistic reach of course. We got buffons, minstrels, dope slingers, & pimps amongst us and ya'll are worried about a movie that hasn't even been released. Plez Peoples!

Sent by reggie | 8:18 PM | 3-7-2008

Interesting with all these African male actors [and aspiring ones too], not one of them was selected for this job? I dont care really since i do not go to movies nor own a stoopid cathode ray tube box [TV] but when you think about the economic disenfranchisement in the selection and its potential for setting the trend of decline of African male actors with a increase in make-up professionals to "create" the African male imagery it makes me wanna run out and buy a bunch of Al Jolson 78s. What is it that Field N. always says.."da jigging has gotta stop..."

Sent by KMJUMBE | 2:21 AM | 3-11-2008

I am an African American woman and I find it extremely offensive that RDJ (or anyone else for that matter) would agree to portray such a role! I understand that many people who have left comments say that "It's just a comedy," but when you are Black, these types of actions tend to strike a nerve that people from other ethnic groups may not understand. This is especially hurtful when interacting with others from another ethnic group and they feel that since you are African American that they can imitate these characters when they are addressing you, as if since you are Black, you can relate to the stereotypes. It is unfair to make people feel uncomfortable for the sake of comedic enjoyment for others. I ask that people take a moment to try to understand how this type of portrayal is offensive, especially if it doesn't have any other purpose except to be comical.
By the way, I did not agree with how overweight people were made fun of in "Shallow Hal" or how Eddie Murphy portrayed white people in his movies when he wore makeup. Comedy should be used to entertain without offending large groups of individuals. This is why many kids feel that the only way to get a chuckle out of others is to poke fun at someone or put people down.

Sent by Lena | 4:23 PM | 8-6-2008

If he were playing a character that was actually supposed to be black, that might be offensive, but he's actually playing a white actor who plays a black character in a movie within the movie. I saw an advance screening a couple of weeks ago. It's not offensive to anyone who can take a joke, and in many ways it is pro black, as it points out how ludicrous cross racial casting can be. See the movie before you decide you're offended by it.

Sent by Jaron | 2:36 PM | 8-7-2008

{Interesting with all these African male actors [and aspiring ones too], not one of them was selected for this job? I dont care really since i do not go to movies nor own a stoopid cathode ray tube box [TV] but when you think about the economic disenfranchisement in the selection and its potential for setting the trend of decline of African male actors with a increase in make-up professionals to "create" the African male imagery it makes me wanna run out and buy a bunch of Al Jolson 78s. What is it that Field N. always says.."da jigging has gotta stop..."

Sent by KMJUMBE | 2:21 AM ET | 03-11-2008}

Seriously,your saying this? Did you even bother to read about this movie and the characters?

As far as this movie goes I have heard it is really funny. The fact that it actually makes fun of stereo typing movies should be a relief to people.

For all the boycotts and protests this movie will probably garner with its existence just go watch it and see if you enjoy it. Don't just come on here and black list it because you heard that it was this or that.

Sent by CJ | 12:39 AM | 8-26-2008

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