Spike Lee is returning to the big screen in with “BlacKkKlansman,” a film based on the life of Ron Stallworth, an African-American police officer in Colorado in the 1970s who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan alongside his Jewish police partner.
Lee and the film’s star, John David Washington, opened up about the movie's dense plot and how it addresses today’s political climate by tackling issues such as racial tensions, the current administration and police brutality against African-American men.
“My co-writer, Kevin Willmott, who took the job, knew that as storytellers, we had to put stuff in the film that connected to the present day, so that people would not just look at us as a period piece, a history lesson,” Lee told Fox News during the “BlacKkKlansman” press junket in New York.
John David Washington, who is the son of actor Denzel Washington, said he was proud to play Stallworth, whom he called an "American hero."
“You’re doing the right thing, just do your job the right way,” he said of his character. “Always remind yourself why you decided to protect and serve your community, to protect and serve people like you and me — strangers, really.
"What you are doing is, unfortunately, a thankless job, that I think should be given more credit and highlighted — men and women of color doing their job on that side of the law,” Washington added.
The 35-year-old actor continued on to say that he was inspired to play Stallworth and hoped to shed light on more people in law enforcement who are like his character.
“One of the motivating factors for me was being able to play this man and put him on display," he said. "People who are like him [should] stand up and be proud of what they are doing and know that they are making a difference."
Lee said he hopes "BlacKkKlansman" sparks a dialogue about America's current political climate.
“I respect the audience’s intelligence too much to tell them what they should think, but when they see this film, people are gonna have their opinions. One of the great things about 'Do the Right Thing,' when that film came out, people in the [movie theater] lobby they’d be discussing who did the right thing,” Lee said of his classic 90’s film.
He said he expects a similar reaction to “BlacKkKlansman.”
“I think that this film is gonna generate that same discussion, which I think is great 'cause we need to talk about what the F is going on today. People have to be alert, be smart, and stop going for the ‘okie doke’ because people are lying … and we have to speak truth to power.”
Lee’s “BlacKkKansman” hits theaters on Friday, Aug. 10.