As Tugg Speedman in 2008's "Tropic Thunder," Ben Stiller played a past-his-prime action star desperate to win an award at any cost who takes on the role of the mentally disabled "Simple Jack." The character caused outrage and boycotts among special needs groups then — as it did this week, when a photo surfaced showing Shaun White had dressed up as Simple Jack for Halloween.
Shaun publicly apologized for the "insensitive" costume choice on Monday after being slammed for his actions by the Special Olympics on Monday, Oct. 28. On Tuesday, Ben, who also directed "Tropic Thunder," waded into the conversation on Twitter.
The actor caught wind of a tweet that read, "Maybe we should all boycott Tropic Thunder now. On second thought … I love that movie! I'm gonna give it another watch tonight and laugh my butt off at it."
Replying to the thread, Ben explained the reason the original character appeared in the script, defended Shaun, who faced widespread backlash online after his costume found its way onto social media and praised the Special Olympics organization.
"Actually 'Tropic Thunder' was boycotted 10 years ago when it came out, and I apologized then … It was always meant to make fun of actors trying to do anything to win awards," the actor wrote. (Those boycotts, by the way, were also related to Robert Downey Jr.'s character's use of blackface.)
"I stand by my apology, the movie, Shaun White, and the great people and work of the @Special Olympics."
In their initial statement about the costume, the Special Olympics told TMZ: "We are truly disappointed that Shaun White, an acclaimed Olympian, would choose this costume which is so offensive and causes so much pain."
Shaun quickly responded, announcing on Instagram, "I owe everyone in the Special Olympics community an apology for my poor choice of Halloween costume. It was a last minute decision. It was the wrong one."
He added that he was "sorry for being insensitive" and assured fans he'd learned his lesson.