This Robert Downey Jr. Movie Was So Bad That Even His Own Mom Was Against It
It’s not the kind of fame you’d want for yourself.
If there's a role so controversial that it still casts a shadow over Robert Downey Jr. 's career, it's the role of Kirk Lazarus in Tropic Thunder. Although the movie is aggressively ironic and the role of Kirk is meant to expose all the flaws of the industry as well as the lengths to which actors are willing to go to succeed, the message of the movie is very questionable.
If you're not familiar with 2008's Tropic Thunder and its characters, Kirk Lazarus, portrayed by Robert Downey Jr., is an Australian actor with huge ambitions and no sense of reality.
In order to portray the African-American Sgt. Lincoln Osiris, Lazarus undergoes a dangerous medical procedure to change his skin color and spends half the movie speaking in an obviously fake black accent that many find offensive. Such a character would definitely not make it to the big screen today.
Though the film has been generally well-received by critics and has an 82% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, Downey Jr.’s role still bothers viewers enough to keep the discussion going. However, it wasn't just some strangers who didn't feel comfortable with the actor doing a movie in blackface.
Even his own mother, Elsie Downey, who was also an actress and knew the industry well enough to be extra cautious about some decisions, was afraid that Tropic Thunder would ruin her son's reputation. Robert Downey Jr. recalled the moment in an interview with The Washington Post:
“My mother was horrified. ‘Bobby, I’m telling you, I have a bad feeling about this.' I was like ‘Yeah, me too, mom’,” he said.
In the end, the role did no harm to his career. If anything, Robert Downey Jr. left the production with a few more prestigious nominations. One of them was an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor, and some others included BAFTA, Golden Globes, and SAG AFTRA Awards.
Source: The Washington Post