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Director Tells How Robert Downey, Jr. Got Mike Tyson to Gay Bash Him


BlackBook talked to director James Toback about Tyson, his new documentary on the heavyweight boxer. During the interview they also talk about Toback's 1999 film Black and White about a documentary filmmaker played by Brooke Shields who follows a group of white kids as they try to fit in with Harlem's black Hip-Hop crowd.

Tyson2 Toback discusses an impromptu scene between Robert Downey, Jr. and Mike Tyson:

"When Mike got out of prison, I told him I was starting this movie called Black and White, which I was going to collaborate with the Wu-Tang Clan. He got all excited and wanted to do it. Downey had also just gotten out of rehab or jail. My intuition is that interesting people are more interesting right after they have suffered. It opens them up even further. I felt that both of them would be very good in the movie and good together. I asked Downey what he wanted to play, and he said, 'Why don’t I play the gay husband of Brooke Shields?' I said, 'Good. Why don’t you play the gay husband of Brooke Shields who hits on Mike Tyson?' It only occurred to Downey at the last minute to ask whether I had told Mike that he was going to hit on him. I said, 'No.' Downey said, 'What if he gets angry?' I said, 'I would assume he would.' He said, 'How far do you want me to take it?' I said, 'Take it until he responds in the extreme.' Downey responded, 'What if he kills me?' I said, 'Well, I haven’t thought about that. I think it’s unlikely—no better than a 5% chance. But, at the rate you’re going, you’re going to end up dying in the parking lot of a motel in Culver City. So what would be better ... that or dying like this?' Downey cracked up and proceeded to provoke Mike at great lengths to smack him, choke him, slam him on the ground, and call him a 'cum drinker.'"

I've dug up the scene. You can watch it, as well as the trailer for Tyson, AFTER THE JUMP...

Tyson trailer:

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  1. Ummm... that was AMAZING.

    Posted by: Jon B | Mar 20, 2009 11:01:48 AM

  2. People die over this. This isn't funny.

    Posted by: Sarina | Mar 20, 2009 11:09:54 AM

  3. WTF??? What is wrong with these assholes?

    Posted by: db | Mar 20, 2009 11:26:15 AM

  4. Very, very interesting. I'm not sure who the victim is in the seduction scene. Unless they are hustling--"rough trade" does not like another man to come on to them. Most openly gay men (masculine or feminine) know better than to do such a dangerous thing. It's one of the fantasies of the "down low" culture.

    As the poster, SARINA, just said, "people die over this".

    Violent gay-bashing is ALWAYS wrong. Deliberate, conscious, and aggressive sexual propositioning of violent rough trade, who are not hustling in a "gay venue or area", is insane.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Mar 20, 2009 11:31:02 AM

  5. I'm sorry but this was hilarious.

    "Steady on the assault and battery fella"!

    "you're not dealing with an animal this is not a study of animals"

    "Go ahead with that um, strange individual"

    Posted by: Cory | Mar 20, 2009 11:36:02 AM

  6. Hitting on Tyson is like poking a stick at a tiger, dumb move. That said, it was pretty funny. I wonder if his state of mental capacity is from the boxing or from being dropped on his head by his mother too many times.

    Posted by: patrick nyc | Mar 20, 2009 11:57:03 AM

  7. I think I'm probably just dumb, but I've read this post twice and still don't get what's going on. Does Mike Tyson realize this is a movie about a fake documentary filmmaker? Doesn't he know who Brooke Shields/Robert Downey Jr. is? Is he acting, or is he actually administering a beatdown to some dude he thinks is hitting on him? Wth, am I stupid for not understanding what this is all about? lol

    Posted by: Ugh | Mar 20, 2009 12:00:34 PM

  8. I'm with "UGH" -- doesn't Mike Tyson know he's in a movie? If he doesn't, what does he think is going on? If he does, the scene is fake. Unless, of course, Mike Tyson doesn't know the difference. My guess is that he's just psychotic. I just don't know what's going on here, either.

    And, to echo what's been said by others, posting a "gay-bashing" for amusement is NOT funny.

    Posted by: WizardBoy | Mar 20, 2009 12:18:38 PM

  9. andy, what is the purpose of even posting this? no one in this comes out in a positive light.

    Posted by: kerry | Mar 20, 2009 12:49:14 PM

  10. andy, i keep re-reading in an attempt to understand this post. i don't. it's your blog...but i wish it would go away.

    Posted by: kerry | Mar 20, 2009 12:51:02 PM

  11. Wow. I'm not sure what to think.

    On one hand, it's fucked up to mess with the mind of someone who is known to have issues with violence and mental stability. It's kind of cruel and stupid.

    But on the other hand it's really informative and constructive to have an incident like this documented on film.

    It's pretty disturbing.

    Posted by: paul c | Mar 20, 2009 12:55:03 PM

  12. Pure shit trying to be art. Mike Tyson IS an animal and needs to be contained. Robert Downey Jr. deserved that slap in the face though for this "pretending".

    Posted by: Bobby | Mar 20, 2009 12:57:47 PM

  13. I can't agree more with UGH, wizardboy and kerry. If this is what it appears to be, it is nothing short of using another human being as a baiting experiment for others amusement.

    This just takes away cred from Towleroad.

    Posted by: sfpromo | Mar 20, 2009 1:04:46 PM

  14. "Mike Tyson IS an animal..." & "using another human being as a baiting experiment..."

    Like I said, some of us. If Tyson IS an animal, then what are/were his "keepers"? Sadistic....what?

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Mar 20, 2009 1:24:29 PM

  15. The post needs to be rewritten for clarity. Is this a scene from a movie, in which everyone is portraying a character? It would seem so. But the post seems to suggest that this is Tyson "caught on tape". Not likely, as there are two cameras here--the one Brooke Shields' character uses, and then the Master camera, from which we see the scene, and which would be hard not to notice if you were in the room, not to mention the lighting, sound equipment and film crew.

    Posted by: prov guy | Mar 20, 2009 1:37:16 PM

  16. I agree this doesn't make sense as presented. So they shot an "impromptu" scene with Tyson. He still knew he was in a movie, and that Brooke Shields wasn't the only person in the room with a camera. So did the director give him no instruction whatsoever on what the scene involved, and just tell him to act like himself?

    Posted by: Paul R | Mar 20, 2009 2:37:51 PM

  17. Impromptu? Please. There may have been some improvisation of dialogue but this was clearly staged.

    Posted by: pablo | Mar 20, 2009 7:55:49 PM

  18. Unfortunately, not a surprising response. It has been put out there before that Tysons' trainer from his youth would sexually abuse him right before throwing him into the ring, in order to peak and provoke his anger. The trainer would force him to perform oral on him while he, the trainer, would say humiliating things to him, trying to illicit a response. There are many instances caught on camera and tape (at media events, etc.) where you can hear when Tyson "looses it", he goes straight to gay themed insults. Tyson has never admited to this but others from his gym have said it was common practice w/ this particular trainer. I always assumed that tyson was a brute (domestic violence, rape, verbally abusive, etc.), but after hearing about his own abuse I can't help but wonder if that is a manifestation of his own demons...

    Posted by: RDUB | Mar 20, 2009 8:57:14 PM




    Posted by: Derek Washington | Mar 20, 2009 9:54:17 PM

  20. I'm with everyone else that doesn't get this...

    Tyson knows the director of this movie, they're close friends. And he agreed to be in this movie...

    And it says this is an impromtu scene... Yet it's written as if Tyson knew nothing about this and that Rob Jr was just instructed to provoke Mike so they could catch it on tape...

    Completely lost.

    Posted by: Nick | Mar 21, 2009 12:58:43 AM

  21. so very very confused ....

    Posted by: KFLO | Mar 21, 2009 4:36:16 AM

  22. I got teary eyed when reading RDUB's comment (yeah, so I'm a social liberal). That's just horrific. It doesn't excuse his behavior but it explains a lot. As for this posting, perhaps Andy was trying to demonstrate another side to the horrors of gay bashing that we have soon all too prevalently in the past few days. Not a light side as some have suggested, but another view of such sickness.

    Posted by: CJ | Mar 21, 2009 10:24:53 AM

  23. I doubt any of the questions will be answered. The director is provoking a response from the viewer. The whole thing seems gimicky.

    Posted by: BHS | Apr 27, 2009 6:25:33 AM

  24. Years ago, I read an article on Tyson in which he said that he was in character in this scene, that he perfectly understood that Downey was also in character, and that he was improvising just as much as Downey was.

    Anyone who seriously thinks that perhaps Tyson didn't understand that he was in a movie or that he lacks a normal mental capacity is only reflecting their own rather skimpy knowledge of Tyson.

    Anyone who is interested in learning a bit more about Tyson might as well start with Toback's documentary on him.

    Posted by: Randall | Jan 21, 2012 3:11:26 AM

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