Keanu Reeves

Keanu Reeves Nearly Starred Alongside Tom Cruise and Robert Downey Jr. in $195M Controversial Movie Before Ben Stiller Decided Against the Role

Most of the projects that Keanu Reeves has led or starred in have happened to be intense films brimming with either action or doused in psychological thrill. Then there are the evergreen genres of science fiction and horror that the actor seems to have a strong penchant for. And while the Point Break star has done his fair share of comedic roles, he’s not renowned for those movies like he is for the likes of John Wick or The Matrix. 

Keanu Reeves
Keanu Reeves

There was a time though, when Reeves was being considered for a lead role in Ben Stiller’s satirical action-comedy titled Tropic Thunder. But courtesy of a change of heart, the director ended up taking over the role himself.

See also: Keanu Reeves is Interested to Play One Marvel Superhero and It Might Never Happen

Keanu Reeves Almost Got A Lead Role in Tropic Thunder

Back when Tropic Thunder was still in its early development stage, Keanu Reeves had been a major contender to play Tugg Speedman, a shockingly oblivious yet awfully self-confident action film star who was one of the central characters of the 2008 movie. Or at least that’s the plan the director had initially hatched.

Ben Stiller as Tugg Speedman in Tropic Thunder

Ben Stiller, who helmed the action-comedy, had his eyes on Reeves to play the lead role of Speedman and was himself planning on portraying the ingratiating character of Rick Pew. But because the 57-year-old actor took his sweet time making Tropic Thunder (which easily spanned over a decade), the script witnessed quite a lot of changes, including extricating the Constantine star from the movie and taking over Speedman’s role instead. And due to that, Stiller’s part ultimately went to Matthew McConaughey.

But perhaps Reeves dodged a bullet by not having his name associated to the project, because while the film made decent numbers at the box office, it also stirred quite the controversy, thereby facing the wrath of the public’s reproach.

See also: “I stupidly said no”: Halle Berry Regrets Refusing to Star Alongside Keanu Reeves in $350M Movie That Ultimately Went to Sandra Bullock

The Tropic Thunder Controversy Explained 

Produced, directed, and written by Stiller, the movie’s ensemble included the likes of Robert Downey Jr., Jack Black, Tom Cruise, Brandon T. Jackson, and Jay Baruchel. Grossing nearly $196 million, Tropic Thunder even bagged an Academy Award nomination. But that didn’t save it from all the criticizm thrown its way by critics and audience.

See also: “That’s what people were pissed off about”: Robert Downey Jr. Was Relieved After His Tropic Thunder Co-stars Took All the Heat From Fans

Robert Downey Jr.
Robert Downey Jr. in Tropic Thunder

The most prevalent controversy regarding the movie was RDJ’s Blackface; his character, an Australian actor named Kirk Lazarus painted his skin brown to appear as a black individual. So, whitewashing the character didn’t bode too well for Stiller’s movie. Yet another problematic aspect of Tropic Thunder was the portrayal of an intellectually disabled character and the usage of a slur that is especially frowned upon, which paved the way for activist groups to boycott the film.

But it looks like the Zoolander star is still wholly unapologetic of all these scandals concerning the 2008 project, claiming that it was always meant to be viewed as a work of satire.

Tropic Thunder is available on Amazon Prime Video.

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