Spike Lee sat down with Complex Media and discussed his upcoming Netflix film Da 5 Bloods, his feelings about Michael Jordan’s documentary, and when he thinks he’ll come back to movie theaters.
Lee, 54, has respectfully become one of the Godfathers of Black filmmaking. From his debut picture, She’s Gotta Have It, which has now been reimagined as a series on Netflix, to his Oscar-winning film BlacKkKlansman, Lee has cemented his place in cinema. His newest project Da 5 Bloods stars #Chadwick Boseman, Jonathan Majors, Isiah WhitlockJr., Norm Lewis, Delroy Lindo, and Clarke Peters, and tells the story of four Black American Vietnam veterans who return back to Vietnam to find their Squad Leader and a treasure they hid.
The film will be on Netflix June 12, and Lee says it’s been amazing working with the streaming service on a series and now film. “It was a smooth transition. Netflix is great,” said Lee during his interview with Complex. The film, which Lee says pays homage to Francis Ford Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now” film, ended up on Netflix because studios wouldn’t support it. “Well, all the other studios turned it down,” said Lee, adding that it was important to tell the experiences of Black Vietnam vets. “Well, originally, I didn’t write the original script, but once we got the opportunity, it was a chance to show the story of African American Vietnam vets who go back to Vietnam.”
Lee continued: “Basically, it was not going to be African American Vietnam vets. And adding Marvin Gaye’s songs and album to it. And just doing my thing, but I like to say that the script was written by Danny Bilson and Paul De Meo. It was a question where my co-writer Kevin Willmott and I had to come in and rewrite from beginning to end. We would not have done it in the first place. It was a great script.”
Lee said it was also crucial that Marvin Gaye’s music was implanted in the film. “I knew that from the beginning. First of all, I think that, in my opinion, it’s one of the greatest albums ever made. And Marvin Gaye’s elder brother, Frankie, did three tours in Vietnam. He would write Marvin from Vietnam, so Marvin was getting a firsthand account from his brother, but also Marvin was seeing the black vet brothers coming back to Detroit from the war all messed up and shot up on drugs and whatnot. I really think that, in my opinion, I think that it’s these letters from his brother that gave him the inspiration to speak on it. Which he does.”
COVID-19 has forced event cancellations and postponed films and television series productions. Lee says he won’t be stepping into theaters until the end of the year. “In my opinion, [and] I’m going to speak for myself, I don’t see myself stepping a foot in a theater until November, December. I can’t speak for anybody else, but for me, I am not going to any movie theater until November, December. Maybe next January. The beginning of 2021. Who knows.”
The director then expressed his love for ESPN’s documentary The Last Dance, which provided a detailed look at Michael Jordan’s career and life. Lee is a fan and a friend of Jordan, and the former ballplayer has become Lee’s Agent of Fortune in a slew of his projects. “I love it. I love it, love it, love it,” Lee said of the doc. The filmmaker said he learned even more about the NBA giant while watching. “Oh yeah. Every episode, I learn something I didn’t know of, so that’s great. And also, to me, my bigger takeaway is that Mike historically is not… He’s very self-contained, but he let it out. He let out his feelings, even shed some tears. He became…a lot of people that think Michael Jordan’s human now. He has feelings.”
In the meantime, Lee has spent his quarantine hours watching the news and chilling with his family. “Well, almost every night, I’ve been posting suggestions. Films people should check out. I’ve been reading a lot, listening to music. And my daily bike ride. Watching CNN and not Fox (laughs). And last not least is spending time with my family,” he said
To read Lee’s full interview, visit complex.com. “Da 5 Bloods” hits Netflix on June 12, 2020.