Spike Lee brought a reverential quality to his comments about Mike Tyson at the HBO TCA session for “Undisputed Truth,” a doc that brings Tyson’s one-man stage show to the small screen, with Lee helming.
In “Undisputed Truth,” which bows on the pay TV net later this year, Tyson recounts the highs and lows of his life in a candid manner, from his youth, to boxing career, time in prison and new beginnings.
“Most human beings are not going to display dark parts of themselves and the demons they have to the world. It’s just not human instinct,” Lee explained with Tyson by his side on stage, after remarking that Tyson is “the most honest human being” Lee has ever met.
He continued: “When you see this, and for people who saw the play, he’s out there on the stage, naked, sharing his experience, and his ups and downs with the audience. It’s traumatic. To do that without thinking about whether people are going to like you, love you, hate you…He says, ‘I’m going to tell you my truth, and this is my life.’ I couldn’t do it.”
Tyson lightened the mood in the TCA ballroom, joking, “There’s no way I’m Charles Manson, but I’m never going to be a Mother Teresa, either! …Be careful, I may bite you, as you may know.” Tyson himself is no stranger to the press tour rodeo, having appeared at a 2011 TCA session promoting Animal Planet’s “Taking On Tyson.”
Tyson and Lee, both from Brooklyn, have known one another since 1986, when their careers took off at the same time, and the director recalled one incident with Tyson in their hometown of Gotham.
“I was walking down De Kalb Avenue,” Lee said, “And he was hitting me and driving his Rolls Royce! He was yelling, ‘Spike, Spike get in!'”
Tyson quipped, “I didn’t have my license then, but I did have a really nice car.”
Lee and Tyson don’t find themselves in the same social circles these days — Tyson remarked, “I hang out with a guy who may shoot you, and Spike hangs with a erudite jazz player.” Yet, Lee is confident that their HBO project will have a lasting effect in Tyson’s life.
“To me, Mike, you seem the happiest you’ve ever been,” Lee stated. “What we’ve done will be a part of your legacy outside of the ring.”