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Trivia / Tropic Thunder

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  • Actor-Inspired Element: The entire character of Les Grossman is this, as Tom Cruise was only meant to make a cameo as Speedman's agent, Rick Pecker, but Cruise instead suggested that he play a foulmouthed studio executive. Both him and Ben Stiller worked on developing the character, with Cruise specifically suggesting Grossman having large hands and dancing to "Low".
  • All-Star Cast: Ben Stiller, Robert Downey Jr., Jack Black, Tom Cruise, Jay Baruchel, Nick Nolte, Matthew McConaughey, Danny McBride and Steve Coogan.
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  • Cast the Runner-Up: Ben Stiller and Tom Cruise were considered for the role of Peck.
  • Cowboy BeBop at His Computer: Almost all coverage of the film refers to Jack Black's character as Jeff "Fats" Portnoy as if "Fats" is Portnoy's In-Series Nickname; Fats is actually the name of Portnoy's character.
  • Development Hell: There were talks about developing a Tom Cruise-starring Les Grossman Spin-Off circa 2010. Nothing has materialized since.
  • Directed by Cast Member: Ben Stiller. Made filming the movie a little complicated since it's about filming a movie within a movie.
  • Dyeing for Your Art: Cruise's appearance as Grossman is completely transformed from sleek, muscular hunk to portly, hair, balding and scraggly. Grossman's personality and character, however, are typical Cruise.
  • Fake Australian: American Robert Downey Jr. played an Australian who was playing an African American and even disguised himself as an Asian farmer. In short, he's a dude playing a dude playing as a dude disguised as another dude for real. There's a reason he actually got an Oscar nomination for this role.
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  • Fake Nationality: The Vietnamese cartel Flaming Dragon is led by a Chinese-American and the second-in-command is Filipino-American.
  • Inspiration for the Work: Ben Stiller developed the premise while shooting Empire of the Sun, in which he played a small part. Stiller wanted to make a film based on the actors he knew who, after taking part in boot camps to prepare for war film roles, became "self-important" and "self-involved" and appeared to believe they had been part of a real military unit.
  • The Other Marty: Owen Wilson was originally set to play Tugg Speedman's agent, Rick Peck, but after his suicide attempt, he understandably backed out of the role. The role ended up going to Matthew McConaughey.
  • Playing Against Type:
    • Tom Cruise, who main roles alternate between action films and dramas, with him playing either a badass or a heartthrob of sorts, plays a foulmouthed, balding, morally ambiguous film producer in a satirical comedy.
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    • Ben Stiller and Jack Black's comedic outputs are more remembered for their light-hearted slapstick. Tropic Thunder, while still maintaining a few elements of slapstick, relies heavily on satire and Black Comedy for its jokes.
  • Starring a Star as a Star: Movie stars Jack Black, Ben Stiller, and Robert Downey Jr. play fictional movie stars Jeff Portnoy, Tugg Speedman, and Kirk Lazarus (with Portnoy as more of a wacky fart-joke comedy guy, Speedman as a monosyllabic actioner, and Lazarus as an Oscar-obsessed intensive method actor.)
  • Throw It In!: A few scenes just happened on its own.
    • The scene that had Tugg talking to a flying mantis it flying in his face actually happened by accident.
    • When Tugg nearly fell into the river while he was crossing alone, Ben Stiller really did trip.
    • The dance sequence at the end came from Tom Cruise randomly deciding to start hip-hop dancing during a make-up test. The crew thought it was funny enough that they worked it into the script.
    • Some improvisation was used for the real film's dialogue — in fact, Kirk was written as Irish, but Robert Downey Jr. found it easier to improvise with an Australian accent.
  • Unintentional Period Piece:
    • Tugg Speedman is a washed-up Tom Cruise-esque action star who had recently made Simple Jack, a Sundance-style vehicle in a botched attempt to become more respectable.
    • Kirk Lazarus takes method acting to the point of blackface. He's also noted for being particularly rowdy off-camera (this was from a time Downey was still primarily known for this).
    • Jeff Portnoy is a popular actor appearing in raunchy comedies. He also has a serious drug problem.
    • Alpa Chino is a "glam" rapper. he's also deep in the closet, much to the surprise of his castmates.
    • We have cameos by Tobey Maguire, Tyra Banks and Jennifer Love-Hewitt. While the three of them were big during the early and mid-2000s, they were already fading from the spotlight by 2008.
    • The "'Full Retard' speech" scene dates the film to the time of its release as the film more-or-less single-handedly killed casual use of "retard" by anyone unless someone was deliberately trying to come across as ignorant or a jerkass, same as any given slur.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Peck was supposed to be played by Owen Wilson but he dropped out to seek treatment after a suicide attempt.
    • Keanu Reeves was originally supposed to play Tugg, poking fun at the criticisms of his own inability to emote.
    • The original draft of the movie was about a bunch of actors developing PTSD as a result of the pre-production boot camp necessary to make them into plausible soldiers for a war movie.
    • W. Earl Brown was one of the first considerations for Portnoy, but he personally turned it down because he felt Jack Black fit the role better.
    • Kevin Hart turned down the role of Alpha Chino because he did not want to play a gay character.
    • Originally, Nick Nolte's reveal during the video teleconference scene was intended to be an homage to Quint in Jaws. Stiller toned it down, feeling that there were too many homages in the film at that point.


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