Spike Lee


Spike Lee Trivia


  • Trivia

    • He often casts Denzel Washington, many say the Washington's work with Lee is always his best--despite that Washington has received Oscars for his works with other filmmakers.

    • Radio personality Howard Stern immensely dislikes the films of Lee and has been openly disparaging of them in his books and on his radio show.

    • Whenever he casts himself, his character is usually a scene-stealer who's moniker refers to his diminutive height: "Shorty, Half-Pint, Giant, Mookie, etc."

    • Spike married Tonya Lewis on October 2, 1993.

    • Spike's made for television movie Sucker Free City was originally a television pilot for Showtime.

    • Spike directed an unused segment for SUBWAYStories: Tales from the Underground entitled "Niggericans."

    • Spike has never learned how to drive an automobile.

    • Spike released the book That's My Story and I'm Sticking to It in 2005.

    • Spike has written that Babe Ruth was black.

    • Spike directed the "Come Rain or Come Shine" segment of The Concert for New York.

    • Spike commented after the Columbine High School shootings that then National Rifle Association president Charlton Heston should be shot. Lee later apologized for his comments.

    • Spike sued Viacom after they changed the name of their network TNN to Spike TV. Lee claimed that is a name infringement, they later settled out of court.

    • Spike was a member of the jury at the 2004 Venice Film Festival.

    • Spike frequently casts John Turturro, Roger Guenveur Smith, and himself in his films. Lee also cast Ossie Davis often before his death.

    • Spike was in a relationship with actress Halle Berry in 1991.

    • Spike has been nominated two times for the Golden Globes:
      -1990 Best Director - Motion Picture for Do the Right Thing
      -1990 Best Screenplay - Motion Picture for Do the Right Thing

    • Spike received an Honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts from Long Island University in May of 2007.

    • Spike won the annual George Polk Award for his documentary on life in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. His documentary, When The Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts was specifically honored, for illustrating the evidence of the government's poor performance in the aftermath of the August 2005 storm.

    • Spike is a die-hard fan of the New York Knicks.

    • Spike has also worked on the following artist's music videos: Chaka Khan, Bruce Hornsby, Naughty By Nature, Prince, Stevie Wonder, Public Enemy, Fishbone, and Arrested Development.

    • Spike has helped launch the careers of: Wesley Snipes (Mo' Better Blues), Martin Lawrence (Do The Right Thing), Samuel l. Jackson (Jungle Fever), and Halle Berry (Jungle Fever).

    • Spike is known for almost always having a role in his films, ranging from a cameo to supporting cast.

    • Spike was the executive producer on the 1995 film New Jersey Drive, which showed young black auto thieves in northern New Jersey. At the time, the city of Newark had the highest automobile theft rate in the country, and Newark Mayor Sharpe James refused to allow spike to film within city limits. Years later in the contested 2002 Newark mayoral campaign, Lee endorsed James' opponent, Cory Booker.

    • Spike has authored six books on the making of his films; the fifth book , served as a illustrative pictorial of his first five feature films.

    • Spike has been criticized for his negative depiction of Italian-Americans in a stereotypical manner in some of his films, most notably: Summer of Sam, Jungle Fever, and Do The Right Thing.

    • Spike was criticized for encouraging young black students to skip school and go see his movie Malcom X. Ten years later, after headline-grabbing remarks made by Mississippi Senator Trent Lott regarding Strom Thurmond's failed attempt at the Presidency, Lee ranted that Lott was a 'Card carrying member of the Klu Klux Klan' on ABC's Good Morning America.

    • Spike's controversial hit Do The Right Thing earned him an Academy award nomination for 'Best Original Screenplay' and 'Best Film & Director' awards from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association.

    • Spike has a production company called '40 Acres & A Mule Filmworks', a recording studio, and 'Spike's Joint', his retail outlet that includes merchandise that is associated with his films.

    • Spike credits his father's influence on him as a jazz bassist for the distinctive use of music in his films to create moods and situations, especially Mo' Better Blues starring Denzel Washington.

    • Spike makes his films about people and places, examining race relations, the role of media in contemporary life, urban crime, poverty, and political issues.

    • Spike has directed commercials for: Converse, Jaguar, Taco Bell, and Ben & Jerry's ice cream.

    • Spike was in the center of controversy after he directed the commercials for Nike, when violence broke out in inner cities involving the killings of young men for their Air Jordans. He called for a change of the conditions that made a kid put so much value on a pair of sneakers.

    • Spike was lead down a second career avenue after he was noticed by marketing executives from Nike, when they saw him in She's Gotta Have It. They offered him a job directingcommercials that featured Lee's character from the movie, the Michael Jordon-loving Mars Blackmon, with Jordan himself as their Air-Jordan line.

    • Spike's second big screen feature also launched the careers of a few young black actors, in School Daze. The project was highly profitable for all involved, and garnered exposure for the new faces.

    • Spike earned the 'Prix de Jeunesse Award' at the Cannes Film Festival in 1986, for She's Gotta Have It, pushing him to the forefront of the Black Wave in American Cinema.

    • Spike started to work on his first feature film, She's Gotta Have It in 1985. The budget was a slim $160,000, and shooting was finished up in two weeks. The film was released in 1986, and grossed over $7,000,000 at the United States boxoffice.

    • Spike's thesis film, Joe's Bed-Stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads, was the first film to be showcased in Lincoln Center's New Directors New Films Festival, it won him a Student Academy Award in 1985.

    • Spike took film courses at Clark Atlanta University, and graduated with a B.A. in Mass Communication from Morehouse College. He then enrolled in New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, graduating in 1982, with a Master of Fine Arts.

    • Spike and his family moved to Brooklyn when he was a small child. He attended John Dewey High School, and after graduation he enrolled in Morehouse College where he made his first student film, Last Hustle in Brooklyn.

    • Spike was born Shelton Jackson Lee in Atlanta, Georgia to Bill, a jazz musician and Mary, a school teacher who nicknamed him 'Spike'.

  • Quotes

    • Spike Lee: There are two words that are in almost all of my 23 feature films to date. These two words are 'Wake up!' Wake up from your sleep. Wake up from being comatose. Wake up from the slumber that keeps your eyes shut to inequalities and injustices, to this often more than not evil, crazy, and insane world we live in. Let's move our unconscious minds from the back to the front of a conscious state, and wake up. Let's leave our lofty ivory towers of institutions and get down to the people. As the sisters and brothers say in the block: 'Get Woke!'

    • [On Will Smith saying he doesn't have a broad vision]
      Spike Lee: The reason I was so mad at that statement was that it seemed to me that Will was just saying something the studio told him. You know, 'So, what about Spike [to direct Ali]?' And they go, 'Well, he's not that broad,' and then he comes back to me and says the same thing they said. That's why I was mad.

    • Spike Lee: People are getting tired of seeing TV shows remade, or movies from the 1950s, and comic books, and sequels. People say, well, it can't be the films; it's the video games, it's the 900 channels, it's this and that. All those things are a factor, but I think the biggest factor is that films aren't connecting with the audience. I mean, look. March of the Penguins. How much did that movie make? If there were good movies in the theater, they're not going to see a documentary about penguins.

    • Spike Lee: Well, titles are always important for all my films. That's the first thing the audience hears. Even before I had written the script for Do the Right Thing I had the title.

    • Spike Lee: Most people think that it was Katrina that brought about the devastation to New Orleans. But it was a breaching of the levees that put 80 percent of the city under water. It was not the hurricane.

    • Spike Lee: I dislike Condoleezza Rice more than Bush. The thing about it is that she's gotten a free ride from black people. I know you [Condoleezza Rice] love your Ferragamo shoes, but come on. While people were drowning in New Orleans, she was going up and down Madison Ave. buying Ferragamo shoes. Then she went to see Spamalot.

    • From: August 25, 2006
      Spike Lee: It's not just a black/white thing. I think class has a lot to do with it, too. Because, it's funny, I was in Venice when all of this was happening. But when I got to New Orleans, I was amazed to see St. Bernard's Parish got demolished just as much as the Lower 9th Ward, but they never showed the St. Bernard's Parish on television.