Stiller, 57, took to Twitter on Tuesday to assure a fan he makes “no apologies” for the R-rated 2008 comedy.
“I make no apologies for Tropic Thunder,” Stiller wrote. “It’s always been a controversial movie since when we opened. Proud of it and the work everyone did on it.”
The film contains multiple controversial gags, including one in which Robert Downey Jr. plays an Australian actor, Kirk Lazarus, who undergoes cosmetic surgery to darken his skin so he can play a Black army sergeant. In the movie-within-a-movie plot, Lazarus continues to wear blackface outside of filming and gets criticized by a Black actor for it.
Stiller, who starred in, directed and co-wrote the film, has stood by “Tropic Thunder” in the past. In 2018, he recalled the controversy the film stirred upon its release. At the time, “Tropic Thunder” drew boycotts from multiple disability advocacy groups, including the Special Olympics, for its use of a word used to disparage mentally disabled people and for scenes in which Stiller plays an actor, Tugg Speedman, who takes on the role of a mentally disabled character named “Simple Jack.”
“Actually Tropic Thunder was boycotted 10 years ago when it came out, and I apologized then,” Stiller tweeted in 2018. “It was always meant to make fun of actors trying to do anything to win awards. I stand by my apology, the movie… And the great people and work of the @SpecialOlympics.”
In the film, Stiller, Downey and Jack Black portray hapless actors who accidentally stumble into a real warzone while filming a war movie.
During a 2020 appearance on the “The Joe Rogan Experience” podcast, Downey discussed his motivation for taking the role.
“I get to hold up to nature the insane self-involved hypocrisy of artists and what they think they’re allowed to do on occasion,” Downey said.
He added: “Ben, who is a masterful artist and director … knew exactly what the vision for this was, he executed it, it was impossible to not have it be an offensive nightmare of a movie. And 90% of my Black friends were like, ‘Dude, that was great.’ “
Contributing: Rasha Ali