Celebrity: Spike Lee – Proud Of Who You Are


You have been particularly outspoken about Donald Trump: But we just live in a very, very shaky time in the world now with this guy in the White House, I call him Agent Orange. I mean, it’s serious, now and as President Barack Hussein Obama has said, this coming election could be the most important election in history. The United States of America is really about the soul of the country.

That’s where the battle is now, and this guy in the White House is on the wrong side of history. We showed that at the end of BlacKKKlansman, where the President of the United States of America, the so-called leader of the free world, refused to repudiate the Klan, neo-Nazis, and he said that he couldn’t do it.He was afraid that he would lose his base, and the same way he keeps saying: “Send her back, send her back…” (in reference to Ilhan Omar). Then he says: “That wasn’t me, I wasn’t saying it.” You know, he was egging them mother*ckers on!

So, that’s where we are, and that’s one of the reasons why this film is still relevant, because if you’ve seen the film, you will know that this shit is still going on. It’s not a history lesson, it’s not a relic, it’s still – you could say – reflected in the headlines.

You put a video up on social media with the death of the film’s main protagonist having shocking similarities to that of Eric Garner…: Yeah, I spoke to my editor, Barry Brown, who has cut many of my films. When I saw the horrific footage of the murder of Eric Garner, I called Barry and I said to him that we had to cut it. So, he came over and all of us did it, and we cut some footage together and we put it up on Facebook, where we cut back and forth between the murders of Eric Garner, real life, and Ray Raheem, fictional.

But, as I said before, the chokehold murder of Ray Raheem was based upon Michael Stewart, and nothing happened to the cops who choked Michael Stewart to death. So, that’s where we are at, now.

When this film came out, it didn’t look like anything else which was out and also didn’t sound like anything else: Well, the look of the film is not down to the director, that is more down to the DP (Director of Photography) who was Ernest Dickerson, the costume designer, who was Ruth Carter, the production designer, Wynn Thomas.

Ernest and I went to film school together and Ang Lee as well; we were all in the same class. Ruth Carter won an Oscar for Black Panther, and she had been nominated before for Armistad and Malcolm X. Wynn Thomas has been a production designer for a long time and was working recently on a new film, The Five Bloods.

So, we sat in a room, and I told everyone that we want people to be sweating while they were watching this film. The red wall where you see the corner men, that was not the colour of the wall, Wynn painted it that colour. Ernest would put butane and things below the lens and Ruth would have costumes with no colour. All of this contributes to the heat.

The music fits the piece so poignantly, as well…: Another shout out that I have got to give is to Public Enemy’s Chuck D. Because, I forgot how many times you hear Fight the Power. But I knew that every time you saw Ray Raheem he’s got a hip-hop song blasting, and I wanted an anthem. So, any song that is in the film as much as it is, has to be a great one. What you see in the film was not the first demo. We weren’t ready to show the film to them, so the first attempt wasn’t what we needed, and we waited and waited. Then, when I showed them the film, Chuck knew exactly what we needed.

They had a look at the script, but it’s not the same as when you see the film. But they knew exactly what they wanted to do and how to do it, and they used the Isley Brothers song ‘Fight the Power’ and put their own touches and style to that.