Spike Lee says Donald Trump can't come back to New York after second impeachment

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Zac Ntim
·6 min read
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Spike Lee
Spike Lee recently became the 34th recipient of the American Cinematheque Award. Johnny Nunez/WireImage
  • Insider spoke to Spike Lee about politics and his four-decade career.

  • The filmmaker also spoke about why he has decided to support disgraced filmmaker Nate Parker.

  • "I'm not spending any of my time left...trying to argue with someone and change their mind," he said.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

There is perhaps no filmmaker better positioned to speak to the current political climate than Spike Lee.

The 63-year-old New Yorker has spent almost four decades as the film world's most outspoken auteur. Just last summer, his 1989 masterpiece "Do The Right Thing" was again atop every watch list with audiences stunned by the stark similarities between the deaths of Lee's fictional character Radio Raheem and George Floyd in Minneapolis at the hands of law enforcement.

So, it was incredibly fortuitous that just days before Insider was scheduled to speak with the legendary filmmaker, Congress had just concluded a joint session to confirm former president Donald Trump's second and historic impeachment following the violent insurrection at the Capitol a week prior.

"Oh, that does not surprise me," he said calmly. "White supremacists have been doing this for years. I mean, what we saw was what was called back in the day: a lynch mob. This is not new.

Read more: The 16 essential Spike Lee movies everyone should see - including his latest film 'Da 5 Bloods'

"And every person of color knows or has said to another person of color if that had been Black and brown people trying to do that, the bodies would have been stacked," Lee added.

When asked whether he thought Trump, a former mainstay of the Manhattan socialite scene, could return after his presidency, the stalwart New Yorker replied: "No, he can't come back here."

"I don't think he's coming back. He's not going to get a warm welcome, especially in the people's republic of Brooklyn," Lee continued. "No extended arms, no hugs, no love. No love."

Lee, who's an executive producer on Nate Parker's 'American Skin,' said he jumped at the chance to support the filmmaker

Spike Lee, Nate Parker
Lee and Nate Parker at the premiere of "American Skin" in Venice. Tristan Fewings/Getty Images

Lee is currently in the midst of what could be described as a late-career boom. His 2018 film "Blackkklansman" earned him his first competitive Oscar. His latest film, "Da 5 Bloods," out last year, is currently buzzing around the awards circuit, his concert film of David Byrne's Broadway show "American Utopia" has been hailed as one of the year's best, and last week he became the 34th recipient of the American Cinematheque Award.

But the director is currently on the press trail to promote the work of another filmmaker: Nate Parker. Lee is listed as an executive producer on Parker's new political thriller "American Skin" and accompanied the director to Venice late last year to premiere the film.

Read more: David Oyelowo says 'Birth of a Nation' director Nate Parker 'deserves a second chance' after a rape scandal halted his career

The film, which was written and directed by Parker, follows an army vet named Lincoln "Linc" Jefferson (also played by Parker), who witnesses the shooting of his teenage son, Kijani (Tony Espinosa), by a white police officer during a routine traffic stop.

"This film was made, what, two years ago ... but it's still topical. You know why? Because Black and brown peoples are still being killed in the United States of Americam" Lee said. "That was topical with 'Do the Right Thing.' So, this is a continuation."

Lee said he understands if people can no longer support Parker, whose career stalled after rape charges resurfaced

Nate Parker
Parker at the 2016 premiere of "The Birth of a Nation." Associated Press

Lee told Insider that after seeing a "special sneak preview" of the film, he jumped at the chance to help Parker, whose career stalled after 1999 rape charges against him, in which he was acquitted, resurfaced.

"Afterward, I said: 'Whatever you need me to do.' So Nate called me and I went to Venice where we had the world premiere. So this is a Spike Lee Presentation and that's the story," Lee said.

"American Skin" is Parker's first directorial effort since the 2016 release of "The Birth of a Nation," a Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner that was acquired by Fox Searchlight for a record-breaking $17.5 million.

The film was ultimately derailed at the box office after Parker's 1999 rape charges resurfaced in the press. The 47-year-old actor-director was accused of raping a fellow student during his time at Penn State University. And although he was acquitted of the charges in 2001, he faced heavy criticism for his strong response to the case in the press, particularly after it emerged that the accuser committed suicide in 2012.

Read more: 'Da 5 Bloods' director Spike Lee says he didn't know Chadwick Boseman was sick while filming: 'It was 100 degrees every day'

Speaking about his decision to support Parker despite the controversy, Lee said: "Look, I thought it was the right thing to do in my heart. It's as simple as that."

"And look, let me say another thing: I understand if there are people who feel a particular way about Nate and his circumstances and go with God," he continued. "I understand if people say I can't look at this film. I understand it. That's their feeling. It doesn't make them right or wrong, but ... I'm not spending any of my time left on this planet trying to argue with someone and change their mind."

Despite Lee's support, the film has received an almost universal panning from critics. IndieWire's senior film critic David Ehrlich described the film as "clumsy" and said that Parker deserved to be "canceled on artistic grounds alone."

"Well, look, I knew that was coming and Nate knew that was coming, so it was not a surprise," Lee said of the critique. "For me, I'm a storyteller and I love directors who tell stories, and Nate not only directed, but acted in this film and it's so much needed today."

Lee said critics should give his films '25th Hour' and 'Summer of Sam' a second chance

25th Hour
A still from Spike Lee's "25th Hour." Touchstone Pictures

Lee is currently setting his sights on his next movie, a musical based on the story of two Pfizer executives who launched the sexual enhancement drug Viagra. But like all filmmakers who have been working for as long as he has, Lee is deeply in tune with how his back catalog continues to be received.

Over the summer along with "Do the Right Thing," his previously overlooked satire "Bamboozled" was given a second life following a new reissue by Criterion with critics retrospectively describing it as a masterpiece of American filmmaking.

When asked which of his other films deserved a second look from audiences, Lee said: "I want to say '25th Hour' and 'Summer of Sam.'"

"Sometimes I have done films that people just missed for whatever reason," he added.

"American Skin" is currently available on-demand.

Watch the trailer below:

Read the original article on Insider