After the trailer for the highly anticipated “Zoolander” sequel dropped last month, a scene featuring Benedict Cumberbatch as an androgynous supermodel sparked backlash and a proposed boycott of the film.
“I don’t even know what to make of it, because it hurts my feelings in a way,” Theroux said. “I take great care in the jokes I write, and the umbrage being taken is out of the context of the scene. I wish people would see the movie first. Satire is a thing that points out the idiots, and we went through it on ‘Tropic Thunder’ with the ‘R’ word.”
Indeed, this isn’t the first time one of the actor’s scripts has faced prerelease criticism. He also penned 2008’s “Tropic Thunder,” which sparked a protest from disabled groups who slammed Robert Downey Jr.’s repeated use of the word “retard.” According to Theroux, that joke “was not to mock or be cruel to the mentally challenged, but exalt in the stupidity of people who use that word. I’m all for letting words be ugly when the target is correct.”
The “Zoolander 2” petition claims that Cumberbatch’s model character, All, is an “over-the-top, cartoonish mockery of androgyne/trans/non-binary individuals.” In the trailer, Ben Stiller’s Zoolander asks, “Are you like a male model or a female model,” to which All replies, “All is all.” Owen Wilson’s Hansel then says, “I think he’s asking if you have a hotdog or a bun?”
Theroux added, “With social media and all the rest of it, people’s issues need to be heard… at the end of the day people are looking for bandwidth. People are looking for places to inject their voice. But our target is not, and never was, to disenfranchise anyone.”
“Zoolander 2,” which stars Stiller, Wilson, Will Ferrell, Kristin Wiig and Penelope Cruz, hits theaters on Feb. 12, 2016.