Downey is too serious about his craft to make Kirk Lazarus a second-rater. When he engages his co-star, Speedman (Stiller), about the latter’s failed foray into Oscar-bait territory as a mentally-disabled man. Kirk says Speedman’s mistake was not giving the character more stature: “You never go the full retard”.... Downey is loose as a goose: His flexibility—physical and emotional—is inspiring. His Kirk craves authenticity so deeply that you want to believe he’s a black actor playing a black soldier. And Downey craves authenticity so deeply that you want to believe he’s an Aussie actor playing a black actor playing a black soldier. This is a trivial movie, but the performance means so much.
Aug 13, 2008
The return of blackface
Reviewing Tropic Thunder, in which Robert Downy Jr plays Kirk Lazarus, an edgy Aussie actor who gets so deep into his characters he his skin surgically darkened to embody a badass Negro, David Edelstein writes:—