In 2008, Robert Downey Jr. appeared in a film called Tropic Thunder where he played a character in blackface. He is now speaking out about the role and claiming he felt better because “90 percent” of his Black friends cosigned the role.
While talking to Joe Rogan on his podcast, he said his mother was “horrified" by the role and Sean Penn allegedly turned down the part. Downey had some hesitations but it was his so-called Black friends that eased his concerns. He said, “Ninety 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. 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]. I think having a moral psychology is job one.”
He also added, “Sometimes, you just gotta go, 'Yeah I effed up.' In my defense, Tropic Thunder is about how wrong [blackface] is, so I take exception."
Blackface is certainly wrong, but commentary on blackface should not have been from Ben Stiller, who directed the film, or Downey Jr. Nonetheless, he was rewarded for the performance.
Robert Downey Jr. received Oscar and Golden Globe nominations.
See Downey Jr. in blackface below: