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9 Odd Facts About ‘Tropic Thunder’ That Will Change the Way You Watch the Movie

Tropic Thunder Poster

‘Tropic Thunder’ pulled off something few movies have — it was both a hilarious satire on the movie industry and a legitimate action flick. It’s hard to mix both and find success (many movies have tried) but the screenplay written by Justin Theroux and Etan Cohen did both.

The film was a success, retaining the number one position at the box office for three straight weeks, and earned $180 million during its theater run.  We’d pay to watch it again just to see Tom Cruise.

Here are nine odd facts about ‘Tropic Thunder’ that will change the way you watch the movie.


The movie title is a play on "Tropic Lightning", which is the nickname of the 25th Infantry Division which has seen action in WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Southwest Asia and Iraq. The same division is also featured in the movies 'The Thin Red Line' and 'Platoon' and includes former members such as Oliver Stone and Ice-T

Tropic Thunder Cast

Jeff "Fats" Portnoy was written with Jack Black in mind but is partially based on Chris Farley

Jack Black Tropic Thunder

Kirk Lazarus was originally written as Irish but was changed to Australian when Robert Downey Jr. said it would be easier for him to improvise in the Australian accent. He'd had a ton of practice with an Australian voice from his role in 'Natural Born Killers'


Rumors were that Tom Cruise based his performance as Les Grossman on Paramount Pictures exec Sumner Redstone. Redstone and Cruise had a public falling out after Paramount terminated a development deal with Cruise

Les Grossman Tropic Thunder

According to Ben Stiller, the Tugg Speedman character is partially based on a young Sylvester Stallone

Ben Stiller Tropic Thunder

Owen Wilson was cast to play Rick Peck. Ben Stiller gave the role to Matthew McConaughey after Wilson's attempted suicide

Matthew McConaughey Tropic Thunder

Ben Stiller originally planned to play Rick Peck and wanted Keanu Reeves as Tugg Speedman

Keanu Reeves Sad

Robert Downey Jr. was reluctant to take the Kirk Lazarus role because he felt wearing the make-up to look African American was offensive but Downey took the role because of the script and eagerness to work with Ben Stiller and Jack Black

Kirk Lazarus Tropic Thunder

The hit song 'Low' by Flo Rida, playing on the Les Grossman's cell phone, was added during post-production when the song became a radio hit

Tom Cruise Dance Tropic Thunder


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