Thanks to Nasser Metcalfe (who conducted the interview with Spike Lee in 1999) for sharing this with me. As Metcalfe says, the interview occurred while Spike was promoting the then release of “Summer Of Sam,” which also happened to be around the time when Spike’s feud with Quentin Tarantino went public. Metcalfe asked Lee about his beef with Tarantino, and, in response, Spike revealed some things that may not be widely-known today, specifically, about Denzel Washington taking Tarantino to task on the set of “Crimson Tide,” as well as Samuel L Jackson having to choose sides on the matter.
It’s a brief clip which Metcalfe just uploaded to YouTube a couple of days ago, but I thought it was a time capsule worth sharing, especially in light of my post a couple of weeks ago, on Tarantino’s press conference while pushing “Hateful Eight” in Brazil, saying that he’d never ever work with Spike Lee again, calling him a “son of a bitch” who’d be “very happy the day I accept to work with him,” which he emphasized would never happen.
The apparent feud between these 2 filmmakers has been well-documented over the years. In summary, Spike has always been vocal with his criticism of some of Tarantino’s choices, notably the repetitive use of the so-called “N” word by characters (black or white) in his movies.
I’d say that their feud likely went public after “Jackie Brown” (1997, 2 years before Nasser Metcalfe’s interview with Spike) when Lee expressed his concern for the excessive use of the “N” word in the movie (something like 38 times I believe was the count).
Naturally Tarantino responded, stating: “As a writer, I demand the right to write any character in the world that I want to write. And to say that I can’t do that because I’m white… that is racist.”
There wasn’t much public beefing between the two after that, until “Django Unchained” was released 3 years ago. Lee vocalized his disapproval of Tarantino’s slave-revenge fantasy, and vowed he would never see the movie, calling it “disrespectful to my ancestors.”
“American Slavery Was Not A Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western. It Was A Holocaust. My Ancestors Are Slaves. Stolen From Africa. I Will Honor Them,” Spike said in a tweet.
Tarantino was asked about Spike’s disapproval, but he chose not to address it – at least, not directly. Tarantino simply countered that he would not “waste time” responding to Lee.
Watch the brief 1999 clip below: