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Downey Jr. doesn’t regret wearing blackface

ROBERT Downey Jr. famously wore blackface in the 2008 movie Tropic Thunder, where he played an Australian actor who darkens his skin in order to play a black soldier in a war film.

The 54-year-old actor recently discussed the controversial role on The Joe Rogan Experience podcast, saying that he believes the comedy sparked a very necessary conversation that's more than skin deep.

"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. shared.

Ben Stiller, left, and Robert Downey Jr. in
Ben Stiller, left, and Robert Downey Jr. in "Tropic Thunder." Picture: AP Photo/Paramount Pictures, Merie Weismiller Wallace

"I think having a moral psychology is job one. Sometimes, you just gotta go, 'Yeah I effed up.' In my defence, Tropic Thunder is about how wrong (blackface) is, so I take exception."

While he believes the blackface in Tropic Thunder ultimately served a purpose, he was still hesitant to accept the role when it was initially offered by director Ben Stiller. His mother, Elsie Ford, was also concerned.

"My mother was horrified," Downey Jr. revealed. "'Bobby, I'm telling ya, I have a bad feeling about this.' I was like, 'Yeah me too, mum.'"

He continued, "When Ben called and said, 'Hey I'm doing this thing' - you know I think Sean Penn had passed on it or something. 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 star went on to joke about wanting the opportunity to "be black for a summer."

"I thought, 'Well hold on dude, get real here, where is your heart? My heart is … I get to be black for a summer in my mind, so there's something in it for me."

Robert Downey Jr, Jack Black, Brandon T Jackson and Jay Baruchet in “Tropic Thunder”.
Robert Downey Jr, Jack Black, Brandon T Jackson and Jay Baruchet in “Tropic Thunder”.


He went on, "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 Jr. also noted that the majority of his black friends had no problem with the part while acknowledging those who did take issue.

"(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. continued. "And 90 per cent of my black friends were like, 'Dude, that was great.' I can't disagree with (the other 10 per cent), but I know where my heart lies."

Downey Jr. was nominated for an Oscar, Golden Globe and SAG Award for the role, losing all three to Heath Ledger for The Dark Knight.



This article originally appeared on The New York Post and was reproduced with permission