Spike Lee Talks Halle Berry, Robert De Niro in Podcast Interview

By Kay, Jeremy | Screen International, August 30, 2017 | Go to article overview

Spike Lee Talks Halle Berry, Robert De Niro in Podcast Interview


Kay, Jeremy, Screen International


Filmmaker discusses career, roots on Pandora podcast.

In a broad-ranging podcast interview on Wednesday [30], Spike Lee told how Halle Berry had to audition multiple times for the role of a junkie in Jungle Fever because she looked too good.

Speaking of his 1991 film on the Questlove Supreme podcast on Pandora, Lee said: “Halle Berry came in five times. And the role is Vivian, the two-dollar crack ho. And the first four times, she just too fine.

“So finally somebody must have told her, ‘You can’t come in looking like this.’ I think she didn’t bathe for a week and I didn’t recognise her when she stepped in the room. And that’s how she got the part.”

Discussing his 1986 breakout She’s Gotta Have It, Lee had this to say: “After I finished NYU in the summer, in May of ’82, I tried to do a feature film called Messenger. It was starring Laurence Fishburne… I got involved with a friend of the family who said he was going to finance the film… and the money never came. So I had to pull the plug and my name was mud, rightfully so.

“So I had to lay low. And I just said to myself, ‘You know, I had three years of being in graduate film NYU so I should be able to do a film with two or three people speaking.’ And that turned into She’s Gotta Have It. But it was a complete disaster.”

The film earned acclaim for its depiction of African-Americans as aspirational, well-adjusted people and moved away from the stereotypical portrait of criminals and failures. However Lee has said in a prior interview that he regretted the “immature” way he shot a rape scene. He is currently working on a 10-part adaptation of She’s Gotta Have It for Netflix it that is expected to air later this year.

The writer-director (and occasional actor) also touched on his first choice for Sal in 1989’s Do The Right Thing - a role that eventually went to Danny Aiello. “I wanted Rob De Niro to do it, but he didn’t want to do it. But it turned up. …

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