Entertainment Weekly has got your first look at Ben Stiller’s “Tropic Thunder”, a movie comedy/spoof that he’s directing, his first directorial gig since 2001’s kinda-crappy/kinda-funny “Zoolander”. The film was supposed to star Owen Wilson as a spoiled actor doing the “modern equivalent” of Francis Ford Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now”, but now stars Robert Downey Jr. (“Iron Man”) in face paint because, er, the original script within the movie called for a black actor in the role, so Downey Jr.’s character, being the braindead actor that he is (you know, usual actor stuff), decides to paint his face black for the role. No, seriously.
Stiller got the idea for Thunder more than 20 years ago while shooting a small part in Steven Spielberg’s WWII drama Empire of the Sun. He’s continued to develop the script as his own star has risen, which makes taking on his brethren all the richer — watch for cameos from Tom Cruise and Tobey Maguire — and all the more perilous. For starters, Hollywood satires have a rocky box office record. And then there’s that little issue of a white guy playing a black guy. Stiller says that he and Downey always stayed focused on the fact that they were skewering insufferable actors, not African-Americans. ”I was trying to push it as far as you can within reality,” Stiller explains. ”I had no idea how people would respond to it.” He recently screened a rough cut for African-Americans, and was relieved at the reaction. ”It seems people really embrace it,” he says.
First pic from the movie below (the guy with the white crew cut in the back is Jack Black): (Update Replaced the small pic with a bigger version):