Interrogating Spike Lee.

Interviews with a point.
Dec. 1 2005 1:05 PM

Spike Lee

The director talks about movies, race, and Will Smith.

(Continued from Page 3)

Lee: Oh, thank you.

Slate: What are you working on now?

Advertisement

Lee: We're doing the score for my new film. The film is called Inside Man. It's about a bank robbery that becomes a hostage situation. Denzel Washington is a New York City detective; he runs a hostage-negotiation team. He has to match wits with the mastermind behind the bank robbery, who is played by Clive Owen.

SlateI remember you got very angry when you were talking to Will Smith about directing Ali, and Smith said to you, "Well, I want someone with a broader vision." You said you knew right away it wasn't going to be you.

Lee: The reason I was so mad at that statement was that it seemed to me that Will was just saying something the studio told him. You know, "So, what about Spike?" And they go, "Well, he's not that broad," and then he comes back to me and says the same thing they said. That's why I was mad.

Slate: Did you sense that "broader vision" was code for not being so African-American?

Lee: Well, that's what it means. Appeal to the widest margin and, you know, you all saw how Ali turned out, so there you go.

Look, my films have to make some money. But I still think that it was unfortunate. I wanted to do Ali, Will and the studio didn't want me, and that's that. I moved on a long, long, long, long time ago.

Slate: A friend of mine has started using the word "business" as a verb, and I think that's right. Everything's "businessed" these days. Do you think a movie like Do the Right Thing could be made now?

Lee: It would be really hard.

Slate: Would audiences even respond?

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

The Religious Right Is Not Happy With Republicans  

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:58 PM The Religious Right Is Not Happy With Republicans  

How Did the Royals Win Despite Bunting So Many Times? Bunting Is a Terrible Strategy.

Catacombs Where You Can Stroll Down Hallways Lined With Corpses

Homeland Is Good Again! For Now.

Crime

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

Music

How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You: It Spreads Slowly

Piper Kerman on Why She Dressed Like a Hitchcock Heroine for Her Prison Sentencing

Trending News Channel
Oct. 1 2014 1:25 PM Japanese Cheerleader Robots Balance and Roll Around on Balls
  News & Politics
Crime
Oct. 1 2014 4:15 PM The Trials of White Boy Rick A Detroit crime legend, the FBI, and the ugliness of the war on drugs.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 2:16 PM Wall Street Tackles Chat Services, Shies Away From Diversity Issues 
  Life
Outward
Oct. 1 2014 6:02 PM Facebook Relaxes Its “Real Name” Policy; Drag Queens Celebrate
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 3:02 PM The Best Show of the Summer Is Getting a Second Season
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 4:46 PM Ebola Is No Measles. That’s a Good Thing. Comparing this virus to scourges of the past gives us hope that we can slow it down.
  Health & Science
Science
Oct. 1 2014 4:03 PM Does the Earth Really Have a “Hum”? Yes, but probably not the one you’re thinking.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?