“Oscar®-winner Kirk Lazarus is specifically drawn to the character of Lincoln Osiris, who happens to be a black man,” says Cornfeld. “He seriously sees this as his next great acting challenge. Naturally, the studio doesn’t grasp how absurd this is. They just jump at the opportunity to have him in the film. When Lazarus reports for duty on set, he is Lincoln Osiris, and he refuses to drop out of character at any time throughout the entire movie.”
Lazarus is committed one hundred percent to the role. “Kirk’s heart is in the right place,” Downey says. “The way it’s portrayed is self-deprecating. He has literally gotten so into the role that he cannot get out of it, even when there’s no indication they’re making a movie anymore. Certain of us actors have gone that method route at times, but only up to a point. There’s professionalism and dedication; and then there’s total narcissism,” he laughs.
Justin Theroux, executive producer and co-writer of “Tropic Thunder,” observes that Robert Downey Jr. is “the man of a million characters. He’s an actor who can pull off virtually anything – comedy, drama – and like Ben, he’s a master of improv. Just watching them do a scene together was a joy to behold. It’s sort of like watching a beautiful little tennis match, because they’re both such talented and capable comedic talents.”
Co–starring opposite Lazarus in the film is Alpa Chino. Portrayed by actor-comedian Brandon T. Jackson, Alpa Chino is a multi-platinum selling hip-hop star, (whose most recent hit was “I Love Tha’ Pussy”) with an extensive merchandise line that includes the “Booty Sweat” energy drink brand, “Bust-A-Nut” candy bars and a menswear line for the Gap called “Alpa Chinos.”
Alpa has now set his sights on legitimate acting, playing a character named Motown, a badass soldier from Detroit who wears customized fatigues covered in graffiti. “My character is just this over-the-top, ridiculous guy,” Jackson says. “He’s so obsessed with the movie ‘Scarface’ that he has named himself after that film’s star, Al Pacino. And he’s a stickler about his name, too. People are always saying it wrong, so he’s always spelling it out: A-L-P-A.”
While Alpa Chino sees the war epic as a new career opportunity, he resents the fact that the role of Lincoln Osiris has been cast with Kirk Lazarus, which leads to some testy altercations. “Our characters are always getting into it,” says Jackson. “Alpa is insulted that the role wasn’t given to a black man. Yet, when he tries to argue this point with Kirk, it’s like talking to a wall.”
“Alpa Chino respects Kirk Lazarus the same way he respects Al Pacino,” Downey says, “because he grew up watching Lazarus in these Oscar®-winning parts. But, clearly, Lazarus has crossed a line and when the movie starts to go south, and they’re in real danger, his behavior becomes extremely irritating. Eventually, however, they develop a bond, which proves to be a really interesting twist.”