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Spike Lee: “You Couldn’t Make A Movie Of Prince’s Life”

Spike Lee: “You Couldn’t Make A Movie Of Prince’s Life”

Spike Lee: "You Couldn't Make A Movie Of Prince's Life"

OKP: Wow. When you work with a musician who is such an auteur in their own right, and it’s a meeting of two artists…does that affect the way you approach your directing? Or do you just kind of bring what you would normally bring to the table?

Spike: No, I mean if, if he didn’t have the belief in my ability, he would’ve never called me out of the blue, so that wasn’t a problem. There was no problems. In fact, he didn’t need to give me notes, you know? He said “Love it” and they just put it out. But, since he wasn’t in it, I just had to go with, with using a lot of stock footage, and the main story of this family, a black family in Bed-Stuy that you see in the piece. They’re on welfare and they’re just getting by on peanut butter and welfare cheese, so, you know this was made during those pressure days of the 1980s…and I forgot I put Trump in it, too! [laughing].

OKP: Prophetic, unfortunately.

Spike: Mm-hm. But I loved that album, and I was just honored that he called me up to do that with that piece.

OKP: You mentioned Stevie Wonder, and I think that’s a very telling comparison because Stevie, Michael Jackson and Prince are in some ways…well, there’s very few people who have attained that level in music.

Spike: They’re all brothers. They all love each other, support each other, and I’m very fortunate. Again, I’m blessed to work with all three. With Stevie, Michael Jackson, and Prince. So, that’s a blessing. That’s a blessing, that’s a blessing, that’s a blessing!

OKP: which leads me to a whole host of questions…just out of curiosity and as a fan. Um, we all remember you and DJ Spinna collaborated on a Michael Jackson in the park event in memory of his passing…

Spike: We have something in store for Prince’s birthday, too…

OKP: Okay, that was my next question. You’re giving me hope.

Spike: That’s the most I can give you right now. But it’s gonna be a beautiful night. [It was. there are pictures to prove it.-ed.]

OKP: We’ll leave that aside. But I guess I always wanted to get you know, this tribute that you did in front of 40 Acres & A Mule the night we found about Prince’s passing…I just caught the end myself…

Spike: What? you didn’t hear “Purple Rain” at the end? The 20-minute version. The last 20 minutes was 20 minutes of “Purple Rain”…

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OKP: Just the very end, but even after the music cut, the vibe on the street…I mean we haven’t seen a spontaneous outpouring like that, maybe since Obama’s election night. Brooklyn came out, it was a real moment of coming together. I just wonder what was your perspective kind of being at the center of it. How did it feel?

Spike: Well, I mean, I think everybody wanted to do something about it. I was just the one who had the means and the ways. I was in class at NYU–my grad film class–and my phone started blowing up. We had to call to find out. This started the trepidation, but I called one person and when they picked up the phone, that person was crying. So I knew it was true.

So the class starts at 2pm. We screened Purple Rain. And then I had my office locked because we had to find a DJ Spinna–he was on a plane to London so he couldn’t do it. But–thank God!–J.Period came in and he ran and got the speakers, and had to talk to the NYPD. I want to give a shout out to the NYPD, because we had really…they closed down the street for us, in front of 40 Acres. I went from 8pm -10:30pm, at 10:00 they showed up and we were like “Woah, woah, woah! Nah, nah, nah, keep it going.” The NYPD let us go for another half an hour. So they too–even NYPD–was swept up in this whole lovefest of Prince. I’ve been–I mean I did a lot of parties! But, that will go down as one of the epic, epic parties. Not just for me, just in general.

OKP: Absolutely.

Spike: There were about 5,000 people there. It was an insane and luck caught up to me by it being Anderson Cooper you know, doing us a solid. You know, live on CNN, around the world, and Brooklyn never looks as good as that, man. It was like, you know, spread love is the Brooklyn way. That’s why we do it, and not to say that we have (laughing) the sole claim on love for Prince, he was loved by people around the world. But it was really, a really a special night in Brooklyn.

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