ABC/Randy Holmes(LOS ANGELES) — During an interview on Joe Rogan’s podcast, Robert Downey, Jr. claimed that his controversial blackface role in Tropic Thunder was apparently a fan favorite among his “black friends.”
In the 2008 film, Downey Jr. dresses up in blackface to portray Kirk Lazarus, an Australian method actor who undergoes a pigmentation procedure that allows him to play a black character in a war movie. Directed by Ben Stiller, Downey’s portrayal was ultimately praised by critics and earned him multiple nominations, including Best Supporting Actor at the Oscars.
The Iron Man actor admits he was at first hesitant to take on the role, which he reveals “horrified” his mother. But after careful thought, he decided to look at the positive.
“I get to be black for a summer in my mind, so there’s something in it for me,” Downey said. “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.”
If that wasn’t enough, Downey said he felt even better after he got some additional feedback.
“Ninety percent of my black friends were like, ‘Dude, that was great,'” he said. “I can’t disagree with [the other 10 percent], but I know where my heart lies. 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 one.”
Now, looking back, Downey does acknowledge the major issues with his role.
“Sometimes, you just gotta go, ‘Yeah I effed up,’ he said. “In my defense, Tropic Thunder is about how wrong [blackface] is, so I take exception.”
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