Robert Downey Jr Doesn’t Regret Doing Blackface In Tropic Thunder

Robert Downey Jr Doesn’t Regret Doing Blackface In Tropic Thunder Gage Skidmore/CC-BY-SA 2.0 | DreamWorks/Paramount Pictures

If you’ve ever seen “Tropic Thunder,” you probably remember Robert Downey Jr’s character Kirk Lazarus. While Lazarus, an Australian actor, was playing a black character called Sgt. Lincoln Osiris in the movie, he decided to wear blackface to really get into the role. Perhaps unsurprisingly, a lot of people have issues with that. Robert Downey Jr, however, doesn’t think blackface is a problem in this instance.

The character’s choice to wear blackface is called out by other characters in “Tropic Thunder,” so the audience is supposed to feel like they’re aware of what they’re doing and it’s all kosher. However, it’s still controversial, for very obvious reasons.

Robert Downey Jr recently appeared on “The Joe Rogan Experience” and said that he still stands behind his decision both to take the role and to do blackface for it.

Robert Downey Jr says his “heart was in the right place” when doing blackface

“I thought, ‘Yeah I’ll do that, I’ll do that after Iron Man’ and then I started thinking, ‘This is a terrible idea, wait a minute,'” he recalled. “Then I thought, ‘Hold on dude, get real here, where is your heart?’ and my heart is: A, I get to be black for a summer in my mind, so that’s in it for me.”

He added: “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.”

The actor said it’s “impossible to not have it be an offensive nightmare of a movie” but that even his black friends liked it and weren’t offended. When Rogan pointed out that there were indeed people who took offense at the movie, Downey Jr responded: “[I] can’t disagree with them but I know where my heart was.”

Jennifer Still is a writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience. The managing editor of Bolde, she has bylines in Vanity Fair, Business Insider, The New York Times, Glamour, Bon Appetit, and many more. You can follow her on Twitter @jenniferlstill