When John David Washington spoke with director Spike Lee about portraying a black policeman of the seventies who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan in Colorado, the actor thought something did not smell good.
"I thought: Is this a crazy articulation of Spike Lee?" Washington told me, when we talked about the incredibly great movie BlacKkKlansman, which was a hit at the Cannes Film Festival (he won the honor of Grand Prix of the festival) and which premieres here on August 24.
The 34-year-old actor debuted on the screen as a school boy in Lee's film, Malcolm X.
But he was surprised when, 26 years later, the director contacted him out of nowhere. & # 39; Received this text: & # 39; Me, it's Spike. Call me. & # 39;
Seventies vibe: John David Washington (right) and BlacKkKlansman co-star Adam Driver
Lee proceeded to tell Washington, a former football player, the story of Ron Stallworth, an undercover agent of the Colorado Springs Police Department who, in 1979, set out to infiltrate the local chapter of the white supremacist group.
"I told Spike:" This is crazy! "But everything is black and white in the memories of Stallworth.
After seeing an announcement of new members of the Klan in a local newspaper, he came up with a plan.
One that required him to change his speech and speak as if he were Caucasian.
"Once I read the book, I admired the man and felt he was extremely brave," Washington said.
"When I spoke with Ron Stallworth later, he put that kind of comment aside and said he had received a lot of help, he just felt like he was doing his job."
Now everyone is thinking: how could a black man penetrate the KKK?
Stallworth spoke on the phone, to hide his identity, and a white fellow officer – played in the movie by Adam Driver – went to the meetings, pretending to be him.
Lee took that story and turned it into one of the best movies of the year. It resonates powerfully in the Trump era, a president who has apparently aligned himself with the extreme right in the United States.
Although BlacKkKlansman reflects current events, it is still rooted in the seventies, and Washington got into the spirit of the times.
White Supremacists: a BlacKkKlansman still shows members of the KKK worshiping a fiery cross
& # 39; Hair and beard and beads. . . We were fresh and totally absorbed in the time, "he said.
He also saw old images of Soul Train. "I stopped listening to my rap and got into the music of the time."
The story and music combine perfectly in an extraordinary scene in which Stallworth advances his infiltration plan while courting a civil rights leader, played by Laura Harrier.
It all comes down to the sound of Too Late To Turn Back Now, a 1972 soul from Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose.
Washington praised Lee for being brave enough to throw him out. He had worked, successfully, on the television series Ballers, but he was still, in relative terms, a rookie.
Topher Grace as head of KKK David Duke at BlacKkKlansman
"We were shooting for four days and I was anxious to know how he was doing," Spike approaches and says, "Put a bass in your voice." That was all, he's a genius, because then he knew what he had to do "
You've probably found out that John David Washington is the son of Denzel Washington and his wife actress, Pauletta.
"I wanted to be an actor all my life," said John David. "But I wanted to do it on my own, so I started right at the bottom.
I got those papers on TV. I did not want my parents to open any doors. I am so happy that I went out and worked, that I faced rejection.
"I'm proud of what my parents have accomplished in this business, but I wanted to do this my way."
I predict that we will see John David Washington much more.
- There are special previews of BlacKkKlansman, including a live satellite Q & A with Spike Lee, on August 20. Visit Blackkklansman Screening.co.uk.
Tom Cruise has been praised for the amazing athletic acrobatics he performs in the grade A popcorn thriller: Mission: Impossible -Fallout
Tom Cruise has been praised for the amazing athletic acrobatics he performs in the grade A popcorn thriller: Mission Impossible: Fallout, which also stars Henry Cavill, Rebecca Ferguson, Vanessa Kirby (super lethal as White Widow), Ving Rhames and Simon. Pegg.
However, athletic as he is, Cruise is 56 years old, and all the talk about a possible MI7 is causing concern because he will not be available for two or three years, and will he want to be jumping off the rooftops at 60?
Meanwhile, look at an IMAX version of the current Mission: Impossible if you can. It looks great on a giant screen.