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Tropic Thunder (2008) Poster

Trivia

Jump to: Cameo (2) | Director Trademark (1) | Spoilers (4)
In the film, Kirk Lazarus says "I don't drop character 'til I've done the DVD commentary." When recording the audio commentary for the unrated DVD and blu-ray, Robert Downey Jr. actually spends the entire commentary in the character that appears on the screen as the movie progresses.
Robert Downey Jr. was very reluctant to take the role because he felt wearing the make-up to look African-American was offensive. But Downey later accepted the role because he liked the script and wanted to work with Ben Stiller and Jack Black.
The character of Kirk Lazarus (Robert Downey Jr.) was originally written as Irish. It was changed to Australian, when Robert Downey Jr. said it would be easier for him to improvise in the Australian accent he had already developed for Natural Born Killers (1994).
Like his character, Kirk Lazarus, Robert Downey Jr. is a method actor and stayed in character as Sgt. Osiris/Lazarus even while cameras weren't rolling.
According to Robert Downey Jr., Kirk Lazarus is based on a combination of Russell Crowe, Daniel Day-Lewis, and Colin Farrell.
Owen Wilson was originally set to play Rick Peck, but after his attempted suicide, Ben Stiller gave the role to Matthew McConaughey.
Ben Stiller originally planned to play Rick Peck, with Keanu Reeves playing Speedman.
For the fake trailer, "Satan's Alley", Tobey Maguire came in at the very last minute to film the role of Robert Downey Jr.'s monk lover. He did it as a personal favor for Ben Stiller and Wonder Boys (2000) co-star Downey.
The South Asian gang "Flaming Dragon" has a pre-teen boy, Tran, as its leader. This is modeled after a guerrilla army in Burma called "God's Army". Their leaders were a pair of twin brothers, Johnny and Luther Htoo who were about 10 years old at the time of the group's founding. Johnny and Luther had a fondness for American action movie heroes, especially the Rambo franchise.
While filming, Jay Baruchel and Brandon T. Jackson had to be trained on how to use a gun. Jack Black used an M-60, also known as "The Pig." According to his co-stars, he seemed very experienced.
Ben Stiller says that nearly all aspects of the Les Grossman character were developed by Tom Cruise, including the dancing and the look of the makeup. Stiller said that in addition to the more obvious makeup effects applied to Cruise's face and head, and the extra hair on his chest and arms, Cruise also decided to play the character wearing oversized prosthetic hands.
The movie drew criticism from several disability groups for the "Simple Jack" subplot, regarding a movie-within-a-movie in which Ben Stiller's character portrays a mentally disabled man. Clips of the fictitious movie are shown, and re-enacted by Stiller, while scenes between Robert Downey Jr. and Stiller drew particular scorn for their repeated use of the word "retard". The producers withdrew a "Simple Jack" website, and proposed altering the movie in response to a special early screening for the disability groups in question, but did not follow through on the suggestion. According to co-writer Etan Cohen, the scenes were not meant to derive humor from mental disability itself, but to satirize emotionally exploitative depictions of mental disability in movies such as Forrest Gump (1994), I Am Sam (2001), Radio (2003), and Rain Man (1988), and the actors who take these roles.
The 'Booty Sweat' energy drink seen in the movie can be purchased on Amazon.com as part of a promotional tie-in.
The water buffalo that Jack Black's character rides was discovered to have been pregnant when the cast and crew came back to the set one morning and found her nursing a newborn calf.
Several actors and actresses make cameo appearances in the movie, including Tobey Maguire, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Lance Bass, Jon Voight and Jason Bateman.
Cody (Danny McBride) seems to have won an Oscar for Best Visual Effects for the film within a film - he is holding it when applauding Tugg's Oscar win.
Ben Stiller first came up with the idea for this film while working on Empire of the Sun (1987). He has said in interviews that at the time he had friends who were actors in Platoon (1986) and Hamburger Hill (1987) and they would go on about the intense "boot camp" preparation and simulation of war these projects involved and how it made them feel like real soldiers. Stiller found this funny because he thought that being an actor in a war film was nothing like being a real soldier in a real war.
Jeff "Fats" Portnoy was written with Jack Black in mind and is partially based on Chris Farley.
The Flo Rida hit "Low" played on the cell phone by Les Grossman was added during post-production, when the song became a radio hit.
Originally Nick Nolte's reveal during the video teleconference scene was intended to be an homage to Robert Shaw's character of Quint in Jaws (1975). Ben Stiller toned it down because he felt there were too many homages in the film at that point.
Throughout the film it is mentioned that Kirk Lazurus is a five-time Academy Award winner. As of the film's original release, Katharine Hepburn holds the record for most acting Oscars ever won with four--no real actor has ever won five.
W. Earl Brown was offered the chance to audition for the part of Jeff Portnoy. But Brown turned it down because he knew that it was written for Jack Black and that Black was perfect for the role.
The other four actors nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role with Tugg Speedman are Tom Hanks, Sean Penn, Tobey Maguire, and Jon Voigt. Tom Hanks appears to have been nominated for playing a handicapped contestant in the Special Olympics, Jon Voigt in a 19th century drama, Sean Penn as a blind man, and Tobey Maguire in Satan's Alley, the trailer at the beginning of the film.
During the battle scene near the start of the "film within the film", Jeff Portnoy (Jack Black), yells, "You call in that snake 'n' nape and get us some boom-boom NOW!" Used extensively by American forces during the Vietnam era, "snake and nape" was a close air support ordnance made up of 250-lb. Mk-81 "Snake-Eye" bombs and 500-lb. M-47 napalm canisters. Essentially, Jeff Portnoy's character "Fats" was telling the radio operator to call for airplanes to come in and drop a combination of conventional bombs and napalm on the enemy so the wounded could be evacuated.
According to Ben Stiller, Tugg Speedman is partially based on a young Sylvester Stallone.
Tom Cruise co-stars as a vulgar movie mogul in this movie. Ben Stiller played Cruise in a sketch on Saturday Night Live in which Cruise played "Celebrity Jeopardy" and also played Cruise's idiotic stunt double "Tom Croose" in a sketch at the 2000 MTV movie awards.
It took fifteen takes to get Steve Coogan's nose to bleed during the video conference scene with Tom Cruise's character. Each actor's part was filmed separately, with Justin Theroux serving as Cruise's stand-in during Coogan's filming.
Many have speculated that Tom Cruise based his performance as a vulgar movie mogul on Sumner Redstone, with whom Cruise had a public falling out after Redstone had Paramount's terminate their development deal with Cruise. Regardless, his physical appearance is more than likely based on Tropic Thunder (2008) producer Stuart Cornfeld.
According to Ben Stiller, in an interview with Playboy, Jack Black filmed most of this movie with bruised ribs.
In the film, Damien's surname "Cockburn" is pronounced phonetically (probably for humorous effect), whereas it is properly pronounced "Coh-burn".
Mos Def was offered the role of Alpa Chino, but turned it down.
The title is a play on "Tropic Lightning", the nickname of the 25th Infantry Division which has seen action in WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Southwest Asia and Iraq (among others). The Division is notable for being the subject of The Thin Red Line (1998) (based on James Jones's novel) and Platoon (1986). Famous members include Oliver Stone (who wrote and directed "Platoon"), rapper Ice-T and Ex-Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin's eldest son.
In one of the special features on the director's cut DVD, Ben Stiller said he has been developing ideas for this movie for about 8-10 years. One of his first ideas was that the movie was going to be about actors going to a "fake boot camp" for a couple of weeks and coming back with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. When Stiller started out in Hollywood, he had a lot of colleagues going into war movies and they would attend a "fake boot camp" in order to prepare for their roles. He found it ridiculous and this was an early inspiration on what would become Tropic Thunder (2008).
Shipped to some theaters under the name "Capricorn".
The poster for "The Fatties" behind Jeff Portnoy (Jack Black) in the trailer features the names of a few of the film's actual crew members: costume designer Marlene Stewart, editor Greg Hayden, director of photography John Toll, and screenwriter Justin Theroux. In addition, the poster contains the DreamWorks Pictures logo, the Dolby Stereo logo, and a fictional composite of several MPAA ratings (reading "PG - Parental Guidance - under 11 requires accompanying parent or guardian").
The character who starts spitting at Tugg Speedman is wearing a Coca-Cola T-shirt that says "drink Coca-Cola" in Hebrew.

Cameo 

Christine TaylorBen Stiller's wife appears at the awards ceremony sitting a few chairs in from the aisle, seen for an instant as the camera follows Tugg down the aisle. She also plays Simple Jack's mother in the 'Simple Jack' trailer.
Justin Theroux:  the gunner on one of the Hueys in the beginning of the film, and the Zoolander (2001) DJ at the One Week Down party in the director's cut.

Director Trademark 

Ben Stiller:  [Star Trek (1966)]  Speedman is seen watching clips from Star Trek: Arena (1967).

Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

Jon Voight's character is visibly angry when loses the Oscar to Tugg at the film's end. This is a reference to Voight losing the Oscar to John Wayne in True Grit (1969) when he was nominated for Midnight Cowboy (1969).
For all the violent action in the plot, the only deaths depicted in the movie are of director Damien Cockburn and the Panda Bear.
Tug Speedman's celebration leap while holding his Oscar spoofs a similar antic by Cuba Gooding Jr. after he won for Jerry Maguire (1996). Tug's leap can be seen on the TV screen behind Les Grossman when Grossman is talking to his assistant and telling him a monkey could do that job. (Grossman is played by Tom Cruise, Gooding's Maguire co-star.)
WILHELM SCREAM] During the three-helicopter raid at the beginning of the film, when an enemy soldier is hit by gunfire and is blown backwards (elapsed time 6:04). Also, when Tugg Speedman throws "Half-squat" into the river in the finale. When this throw is repeated in the end credits, the scream is heard again.

See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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