Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Spike Lee On His Return to Hit Filmmaking After a Roller Coaster Career: “I’m Still Kicking Around”


Spike Lee is back on top, the VIP crowd at his with his critically acclaimed “Black KKKlansman” premiere last night at the Academy gave the tireless filmmaker a lengthy standing ovation.  Spike told the crowd that”  “Exactly 32 years ago today, my first film, “She’s Gotta Have It,” was released.  I’m still kicking around. 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks (his production company) haven’t stopped either.  It ain’t been easy”

Focus Feature head Peter Kujawksi introduced Spike who then brought up most of the cast including John David Washington, (Denzel’s son) who plays the real life American hero Ron Stallworth. Ron came up to the stage as well.  Ron was the first African-American detective to serve in the Colorado Springs Police Department.  He infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan along with his more seasoned colleague Flip Zimmerman, played wonderfully by Adam Driver. 

Driver was not at the premiere last night but most of the cast were, including Nick Turturro and Finnish Actor Jasper Paakkonen.  Spike tripped up on his name and then told the crowd.  “When he auditioned for me I thought he was from ‘way back Alabama’ or ‘hang em high Mississippi.’ I asked him where he was from.  He said Helsinki. I said WTF?”  Spike ended with “Thank you, thank you and spread the word.  It’s ok to laugh, white folks, it’s ok to laugh.”

Spike stayed to watch the film and yet again, the film ended with a standing ovation.  At the after party at the Chateau Marmont I asked Spike how it felt to be back on top again.  “ It feels good.  It’s been up and down, but now it feels good.” 

Nick Turturro told me the difference between audiences on each coast.  “The Los Angeles audience got the comedy more.  In New York it was more of an intense crowd, maybe because it was Brooklyn, but out here in LA, it was more of an industry crowd and they just laughed a lot.  Because it is funny.  This is the second time I’ve seen it, it went faster and better here.  “

Nick is a veteran of Spike’s films.  How does he feel about all the acclaim this one is receiving?   Nick replied, “I always thought Spike would have another shot.  I started my career with him and now I’m in a movie that brings him back.  I was in ‘Mo Better Blues,’ ‘Jungle Fever’ and ‘Do The Right Thing,’ where I met him. This the movie that brings him back, and it should, because he’s really talented. ”

The film also coincides, purposefully by Lee, with the one-year anniversary of the Charlottesville, VA, protests/riots.   Spike also said that “history tends to repeat itself, what happened in the 70’s is happening now.” 

Leah Sydney
Leah Sydneyhttp://traffz.byethost10.com/
Leah Sydney writes from Los Angeles for Showbiz411.com. A seasoned journalist with a long history during the halcyon days of the NY Daily News, Leah is a member of the Critics Choice and Rotten Tomatoes.

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