THE HOT PROJECT: Tropic ThunderWHY HE'S HERE TO STAY In Thunder, as the rapper-turned-actor Alpa Chino, the Detroit native plays the straight man, hilariously, to veteran funny guys Jack Black, Ben Stiller, and Robert Downey Jr.
ON THE SET Jackson was a little too impressed by Downey's take on a black man. ''Robert stayed in character the whole time. My mom got to the set and thought he was Don Cheadle. When I saw Iron Man, I said, 'Omigod, he is white.'''
FAMILY FEEDBACK Jackson was unwilling to show Thunder to his parents, both pastors, until the premiere. That way, ''if they looked down on me, I could say, 'Ben Stiller made me do it! Go talk to him he's right there!'''
COMING UP The 22-year-old recently wrapped the indie spy flick Rogue's Gallery and is picking his next big project with care: ''I don't want to be the black comedy guy. I want to be like the Barack of acting, where you don't see a color, you just see a person.''