First Look: Tropic Thunder

So what do you do to top the bonanza that will be Iron Man? Well you go black face in a Ben Stiller directed comedy. Yup, Robert Downey Jr. is playing a white actor who gets surgary so that he can play the role of a black man in the action-comedy Tropical Thunder.

Sounds confusing? Well let’s go to the photo evidence first. Yes, Downey is in the middle, flanked by Jack Black and of course, Ben Stiller.


So here’s the deal. According to Entertainment Weekly, Downey is playing Kirk Lazarus, a very “serious Oscar-winning actor” cast as Sgt. Osiris in the most expensive Vietnam War movie ever made.

”If it’s done right, it could be the type of role you called Peter Sellers to do 35 years ago,” Downey says. ”If you don’t do it right, we’re going to hell.”

The film marks Stiller’s first directing effort since 2001’s Zoolander. With Thunder (opening Aug. 15), he takes aim at the sweetest target of all: actors. Downey plays one of a team of self-indulgent stars cast in the modern equivalent of Apocalypse Now. Stiller plays an action hero who has just adopted a baby from Asia but worries that ”all the good ones are gone.” Black portrays a comedian known for performing multiple roles in a single film ? his latest is called The Fatties: Fart 2. But when the film’s director (Steve Coogan) and writer (Nick Nolte) get fed up with their prima donna cast, they drop them into the jungle to fend for themselves. The actors think they’re doing some sort of full-immersion filmmaking, but the danger they’re in is very real.

Not exactly the stuff that would set the box office on fire. Hollywood satires traditionally fair poorly, since um no one likes watching movies about actors playing actors. Though this one could buck the trend when it comes out Aug. 15. Downey Jr. should be hot off the blazing Iron Man, and Stiller and Black are always good draws. Plus the controversy of having Robert “Fucking” Downey Jr. go black face will stir interest.

We can already hear O’Reilly getting on his high horse and pulling his knickers up for a fight. But you know what? Stiller has already screened the movie and it sounds like it went over well, especially with African-Americans. ”I had no idea how people would respond to it,” Stiller said, relieved at the reaction. ”It seems people really embrace it,” he says.

As for Downey Jr., he just hopes he doesn’t end up looking like C. Thomas Howell from Soul Man.

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