Actor Robert Downey Jr. opened up about his decision to appear in blackface for the 2012 movie “Tropic Thunder.”
Downey Jr. discussed his role on an episode of “The Joe Rogan Experience” first published on Jan. 15. The “Iron Man” star played an Australian actor in the comedy who used blackface to play a soldier for a war movie.
“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],” Downey Jr. told Rogan. “I think having a moral psychology is job one. Sometimes, you just gotta go, ‘Yeah I effed up.’ In my defense, ‘Tropic Thunder’ is about how wrong [blackface] is, so I take exception.”
While Downey Jr. believed the commentary on blackface was important, he claimed he was still hesitant about taking the role.
“My mother was horrified,” Downey Jr. admitted. “‘Bobby, I’m telling ya, I have a bad feeling about this.’ I was like, ‘Yeah me too, mom.'” (RELATED: ‘We’ll See’: Robert Downey Jr. Hints At Potential Return Of ‘Iron Man’)
“When Ben called and said, ‘Hey I’m doing this thing’ – you know I think Sean Penn had passed on it or something,” he recalled. “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.'”
“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,” he added.
Downey Jr. noted that majority of his African American friends were okay with the role.
“[Ben] knew exactly what the vision for this was, he executed it, it was impossible to not have it be an offensive nightmare of a movie,” Downey Jr. said. “And 90 percent of my black friends were like, ‘Dude, that was great.’ I can’t disagree with [the other 10 percent], but I know where my heart lies.”