'Tropic Thunder': Boys Gone Wild!

Jack Black
Image credit: PHOTOGRAPH BY JAKE CHESSUM

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: The challenge with that character was to find the right line. You want to make fun of this pompous actor, but if you play it wrong, it verges on being minstrel-like. Your costar Brandon T. Jackson told me there was a scene in the script where Osiris uses the N-word and that he said it went over the line.
ROBERT DOWNEY JR.: Brandon might have saved the movie that day.
BEN STILLER: For sure. We were rehearsing in Hawaii and we got to that scene and I said to him, ''What do you think of this?'' Brandon said, ''This feels wrong.'' It was definitely a constant process of feeling it out. But [in general] what Robert was doing was so genuine and funny, it felt okay. I didn't know if it would feel okay when we saw the movie, but it felt like he was in a groove, and this character was just really likable and enjoyable. Robert couldn't be tentative about it, though. He had to commit fully to this guy.
JACK BLACK: I remember when we were doing the big opening shot, I had a thing in my ear so I could hear what was going on for cues, because I'm suspended from a helicopter. And I heard Downey go to the bathroom. I could hear the whole thing. And he stayed in character talking to himself. He peed in character!
STILLER: I got so used to seeing him as Osiris, it was just, like, a different person. [Pause] And I kind of liked that guy better in a weird way.
DOWNEY: [Nodding] I do too. I have not been the same since.

The other big issue you had to crack was, How do you make a movie satirizing Hollywood that isn't too inside for general audiences?
DOWNEY: Sixteen years ago The Player was inside. Nowadays in the information age, with how much more people know about the workings of movies, it's different.
STILLER: It's because of your magazine. I don't know, though. At the end of the day you can't make a movie for everybody. You have to make something you think is funny without being too indulgent.

NEXT PAGE: ''I have been so wantonly, flagrantly humiliated [in my personal life] that anything that could happen as a result of a movie doesn't even register.''

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