With almost forty years in the film industry, something has compelled Spike Lee to tell every single story upon which he’s cast his lens. BlacKkKlansman, the astounding tale of now-retired black police officer Ron Stallworth’s infiltration of the Ku Klux Klan is no exception. “For the last thirty years, from She’s Gotta Have It (1986) to BlacKkKlansman (2018), and all the films in between, the documentaries, Michael Jackson videos, Prince videos, short films, all are important to me,” Lee revealed on a Sunday afternoon in late July as we sat in the corner of a swanky New York hotel overlooking Central Park.
Stallworth’s story, of being the first black police officer to serve in the Colorado Springs Police Department, came to Lee through another visionary filmmaker — Academy Award winner Jordan Peele. “I had never heard of Mr. Stallworth or his book. So that was the first time,” Lee said, as he placed a vibrantly colored backpack with an image of his character Mars Blackmon on the window ledge next to us. “Even before I read the book, Jordan pitched it to me. I thought they were doing the David Chappelle skit again,” he said, referring to Chappelle’s fictional character Clayton Bigsby the black, white supremacist. “David Chappelle is brilliant, but that was a skit; this is someone’s life. We found things in the past that ring true today, and hopefully, people will make the connection and see that this film is not a period piece, but a contemporary piece. It’s about the word we live in –this crazy, crazy bananas world we live in today.”
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