Say What Now? Robert Downey Jr. Says '90% of My Black Friends' Thought Role in Tropic Thunder was 'Great'

The “Iron Man” star wore Blackface for most of the 2008 film and received an Oscar nomination.

While many took umbrage with Robert Downey Jr.’s role in “Tropic Thunder,” the actor revealed some of his close confidants were in full support.

The “Iron Man” star wore Blackface for most of the 2008 film as he portrayed Kirk Lazarus, a white method actor who underwent “pigmentation alteration” to play a person of color in new projects.

“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,'” the 54-year-old divulged on “The Joe Rogan Experience” podcast.

In regards to the other 10%, Downey said he understood where they were coming from.

“I can’t disagree with them, but I know where my heart was and I think that it’s never an excuse to do something that is out of place and not of its time, but to me, it was just putting — a blasting cap on.”

The actor — who was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for the role — discussed how the opportunity to work on the Ben Stiller project unfolded.

“When Ben called and said, ‘Hey I’m doing this thing’ and, you know, I think Sean Penn had passed on it or something. Possibly wisely. And I thought, ‘Yeah, I’ll do that’ — and then I started thinking, ‘This is a terrible idea, wait a minute,'” Downey recalled.

“And then I thought, ‘Well hold on dude, get real here, where is your heart?’ And my heart is — I get to be black for a summer in my mind, so there’s something in it for me,” he continued. “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.”

Downey noted the movie received more condemnation for Stiller’s portrayal of a mentally handicapped person and the use of the word “retarded.”

“And by the way, the funny thing too was all of the heat got deflected to Ben and Simple Jack,” Downey explained. “That’s what people were pissed off about. And I go, ‘Phew, great!’ But you never know when it’s going to be your time in the barrel — I’ve been on both sides of that coin.”

In past interviews, he defended the role as less appalling than previous portrayals of Blackface.

“At the end of the day, it’s always about how well you commit to the character,” he told Entertainment Weekly in 2008. “I dove in with both feet. If I didn’t feel it was morally sound, or that it would be easily misinterpreted that I’m just C. Thomas Howell in [1986’s “Soul Man”], I would’ve stayed home.”

As to whether anyone warned him not to take the controversial role, Downey cited his own mom.

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

[via TooFab]

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