“People got to mobilize, form coalitions, we’ve gotta get going,” Lee told Variety at the film’s premiere at the Samuel Goldwyn Theatre in Beverly Hills on Wednesday night. “A lot of this stuff is grassroots, it’s not going to be just one thing.”
“BlacKkKlansman” is based on the real-life story of Ron Stallworth, a black Colorado Springs police officer who infiltrated the KKK by pretending to be white during phone conversations with Klan members, including David Duke.
“We have a man in the White House who sums that all up. They’re narcissists,” said Stallworth, who is portrayed by John David Washington in the movie. “The guys we were dealing with in Colorado Springs were not the brightest bulbs in the socket.”
“I, Tonya” actor Paul Walter Hauser plays a Klan member and had to don the KKK’s white robe and hood during one pivotal scene. “It was so bizarre,” he said. “It was so uncomfortable at first to see myself as that character, but have these totally opposite feelings in my heart.”
Jasper Paakkonen portrays a KKK ringleader who convinced his wife to help bomb the home of a black activist college student.
“They’re a lot of deep inner conflicts, but knowing that the film was being directed by Spike Lee, I knew that, as an actor, we were doing something right,” Paakkonen said. “I know that by playing someone who is so deeply hateful, what I’m doing is something anti racist I can show to the world, because it’s directed by Spike Lee.”
Screenwriter Kevin Willmott said he hopes the film will help further a dialogue about race and hate in America. “We don’t pull punches, because that gives people ownership of a problem,” he said. “When people take ownership, it allows them to live inside of a problem for a moment and when you’re living inside that problem, you’re no longer afraid of it. Ownership is the first step.”