Robert Downey Jr. Goes Black for New Role : News & Views Actor Robert Downey Jr.'s newest role has him in blackface.
NPR logo Robert Downey Jr. Goes Black for New Role

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?

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