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Spike Lee on being chosen to direct ‘BlacKkKlansman’

Photo: Instagram: OfficialSpikeLee

The 61-year-old director was stunned when Get Out filmmaker Jordan Peele, who had optioned the story and developed a script for the movie, asked him to take the reins on the saga, which is based on the true story of Black policeman Ron Stallworth, who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan in the late 1970s, but knew his own career history would serve him well on the project.

Spike told the Sunday Times Culture magazine: “When Jordan called me up and told me the premise, a Black man infiltrates the KKK, I said, ‘This can’t be true.’ And he said, ‘It’s true’, and I was in. ‘I don’t think there could have been a Black Panther without Malcolm X and Do the Right Thing.”

And Ron, who retired in 2005, was delighted to have the iconic director bring his story to life on the screen. He said, “I was tickled to death. “I’ve seen the movie twice, and it brought a tear to my eye to recognize that the work I did 40 years ago is being acknowledged.”

Spike was keen to “lace the film with words like ‘America first’ to connect it to today,” and while he was editing BlacKkKlansman, the horrific clash at the Charlottesville anti-fascist protest, which saw Heather Heyer, 32, killed when a neo-Nazi drove his car into the crowd, took place, and the Malcolm X filmmaker decided to splice the footage into his movie. He said, “I asked Susan Bro, the mother of Heather Heyer, for permission, which she gave… That was not a murder, it was an act of terrorism. Big difference. The KKK is alt-right, and neo-Nazis are terrorist groups.”

The movie also features President Donald Trump’s response to the incident, in which he insisted there were some “very fine people on both sides,” and the director admitted he was furious about the statement. He said, “The president of the United States had a chance to denounce hate groups, neo-Nazis, the alt-right and the Klan. And he didn’t do it. That’s gonna be his place in history, his epitaph. That could have been a moment to bring the country together. When you don’t repudiate terrorist groups, they’re getting the stamp of approval.”

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