I was probably the most unhappy one in nature, just because I was in my underpants for most of the time,” admitted Black, who plays a drug-addled soldier/actor named Jeff “Fats” Portnoy. “I had to wear bug spray poison head to toe for a few months in a row. All those other guys were all covered in fatigues and bullet protected.
“I mean, there were a lot of creepy crawlies. The worst are the centipedes. Some people on the crew got bit but, luckily, nobody in the cast got bit. The centipedes indigenous to the Hawaiian soil apparently, if they bite you, give the same amount of pain as a bullet shot. You have to go to the hospital. It's not fatal, just incredibly painful.”
Downey, who steals the Ben Stiller-directed sendup as Kirk Lazarus – an Australian actor playing an African-American soldier in a film within the film – had more cerebral problems.
“Actually, I loved being a black man,” Downey said. “This man is so beautiful. He’s deep, he talks from his spirit, and he knows he is surrounded by morons. He’s going to usher and show them the way. I thought that the whole idea was wildly controversial and that maybe I shouldn’t take my act on the road.
“Then there was my voice,” the suddenly white-hot star added. “When the frequency of Kirk’s voice started happening. I honestly felt like I put on the make-up and it was one of those transformative, dumb-ass, self- important actor moments. I let the character come out. It actually really happened. I was having my own self-important actor realization, playing a self-important actor.
“That voice came to me, and the whole character rode on that frequency for the rest of the shoot. I was so happy. It was such a thing of faith and trust, too,” Downey concluded. “Before that, I had no idea what I was doing. I just knew that I was going to be in special effects make-up. I was either going to be really sorry I did this movie or relatively happy that I participated in this.”
Downey, on a career roll after his huge success in “Iron Man,” stars opposite Jamie Foxx in “The Soloist,” out Nov. 21 In October, he starts shooting “Sherlock Holmes,” or what the actor calls “a contemporary version of a good classic,” for director Guy Ritchie. Then comes “Iron Man 2.”
John M. Urbancich
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