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BlacKkKlansman director Spike Lee responds to former Ku Klux Klan leader’s praise: ‘That’s a compliment I don’t need’

The Independent logo The Independent 07/08/2018 Jacob Stolworthy

Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke recently reached out to the star of Spike Lee's BlacKkKlansman to express concerns about his depiction in the film.

Lee's latest recounts the story of Colorado Springs Police Department's first African-American detective Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) who, alongside cop Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver), infiltrated and exposed the KKK while posing as racist extremists in the early 70s.

In the film, Grand Wizard Duke is played by Topher Grace.

The real-life Stallworth was interviewed by Lester Holt on NBC's Nightly News where he revealed Duke had contacted him the previous day, citing his respect for Do the Right Thing director Lee.

“The latest development was I got a phone call yesterday from David Duke,” said Stallworth. “He wanted to talk about the fact that he’s concerned about how he is going to be portrayed in this film. He’s only seen the trailer and in the trailer, it makes him off to be a buffoonish cartoonish idiot.”

After being asked if Duke is depicted fairly in the film, Stallworth said: ”In some areas, yeah. Spike made him look kind of stupid, but he was stupid in how this whole thing transpired 40 years ago.”

Surprisingly, Stallworth told Holt: “He complimented Spike. He said I’ve always respected Spike Lee. Which surprised the heck out of me.”

Lee's reply? “That’s a compliment I don’t need.”

BlacKkKlansman's US release - 10 August - coincides with the one-year anniversary of the Charlottesville riots which saw one woman die after a car drove into a crowd during a clash between white nationalists and anti-fascist protestors.

The film is released in UK cinemas on 24 August.

Spike Lee wearing a hat and glasses posing for the camera © Provided by The Independent
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