Ben Stiller Defends Robert Downey Jr Blackface In Tropic Thunder


Ben Stiller has revealed that he’s not sorry about Tropic Thunder and that he’s still very proud of the movie. This comes after there was a lot of criticism for the movie’s portrayal of disability and for the fact that Robert Downey Jr. wore blackface in it.

It is true that Downey Jr. wore blackface in the movie. However, I do think that a lot of people, when criticising the film for that decision, forget that the character he is playing in the movie is a complete and utter self-centred idiot.

In the movie, Downey Jr. plays Kirk Lazarus, an Australian method actor and five-time Academy Award winner. Before agreeing to star in the film that Stiller’s character, Tugg Speedman, was making, Lazarus had a controversial “pigmentation alteration” surgery to temporarily darken his skin for his portrayal of the black character, Staff Sergeant Lincoln Osiris.

Being a method actor, Lazarus refuses to break character until he has recorded the DVD commentary for a part. He’s a ridiculous character in the movie, and we should remember that before criticising it. Stiller and Downey Jr were making fun of actors who were and still are literally willing to do anything in order to win awards.

Ben Stiller is defending Tropic Thunder for its use of blackface


Credit: Paramount Pictures

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So, recently Stiller responded to a tweet that asked him to “please stop apologizing for doing this movie.”

“It was and still is funny AF … Even funnier now with cancel culture the way it is. It’s a MOVIE. Ya’ll [sic] can just get over it. I was DYING laughing when I first saw it back in the day and so was everyone else,” the user wrote.

The actor then responded that he’s “proud” of the action-comedy. Here’s what he had to say on the matter:

I make no apologies for Tropic Thunder. Don’t know who told you that. It’s always been a controversial movie since … we opened. Proud of it and the work everyone did on it.

The movie follows a group of actors who get lost in the jungle while shooting a war film and are left to fend for themselves as they face real danger with nothing but their acting skills.

The same Twitter user brought attention to a 2018 tweet from Stiller. In that tweet, Stiller was responding to a tweet joking about boycotting Tropic Thunder after Olympic gold medalist snowboarder, Shaun White dressed as Simple Jack for Halloween.

Here’s what Stiller had to say on the matter:

Actually, Tropic Thunder was boycotted 10 years ago when it came out, and I apologized then. It was always meant to make fun of actors trying to do anything to win awards. I stand by my apology, the movie, Shaun White, And the great people and work of the @SpecialOlympics.

Robert Downey Jr has also defended the movie


Credit: Paramount Pictures

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However, when the film was released, it sparked 20 disability advocacy groups — including the Special Olympics — to speak out against the use of the word “retard” in the movie. That said, Downey Jr. defended the use of blackface in 2020, saying he believed it had a purpose in this case. Here’s what he had to say on the matter during an appearance on The Joe Rogan Experience:

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]. I think having a moral psychology is Job 1. Sometimes, you just gotta go, ‘Yeah, I effed up.’ In my defense, Tropic Thunder is about how wrong [blackface] is, so I take exception.

Despite the self-aware script and Downey’s decision to seek approval from the NAACP before the film’s release, he was hesitant to take the role — which scored him an Oscar nomination in 2009.

“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 revealed at the time.

What do you make of this news? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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