Focus Features stirred up buzz for Spike Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman” at CinemaCon last week, and now the indie studio has debuted the first official look at the 1970s-set drama. “BlacKkKlansman” tells the true story of an African-American detective who infiltrated a local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan in Colorado Springs and became one of its leaders.
The first look photo above highlights the film’s two leads, John David Washington and Adam Driver. Washington, son of actor Denzel Washington, is best known for his role on HBO’s “Ballers” and has a supporting turn in David Lowery’s upcoming “The Old Man and the Gun.”
“The most outrageous part [about the film] is that it’s factual, that this happened,” Washington tells Entertainment Weekly about the movie. That’s why it’s so…everything in it, you’ll see, how extreme and eye-opening and surprising the events that happened are, but what tops it off [for] me, what makes it all come together, is that this really happened. This is American history. It’s unbelievable that this story is true, and whether you connect with the film or not, to come into this information is still mind-blowing.”
Washington plays Ron Stallworth, while Driver takes on the role of fellow police officer Flip Zimmerman. Stallworth started a relationship with KKK leader David Duke (Topher Grace) over the phone and had Flip play the “white self” version of his fake person when meeting Duke and other KKK members in person.
“[Ron] still has his Klu Klux Klan membership card to this day,” Washington says. “He passed the card around for us to see and feel and it kind of just brought truth to everything he said, a validation.”
The footage Focus Features debuted on CinemaCon surprised many with its more absurd and comedic tone. While certain members of the press likened the film to a “buddy comedy,” Lee is adamant “BlacKkKlansman” is more than just a comedy. Focus will world premiere the movie in competition at the Cannes Film Festival next month.
“BlacKkKlansman” opens in theaters August 10.