In the movie ‘BlacKkKlansman,’ John David Washington portrays Ron Stallworth, a Colorado Springs police officer who decided to go undercover with the KKK. The only problem? Stallworth was black. But he didn’t let that hold him back.
In real life, Stallworth had a white partner who met with Klan members face-to-face, as Stallworth, for obvious reasons, could not. That partner’s identity has never been revealed, though in the film version of events, the character is played by Adam Driver.
‘BlacKkKlansman’ was directed by Spike Lee. He dedicated the movie to Heather Heyer, who was killed in August 2017 while protesting the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville. Lee’s film was released a year after those horrifying events.
For Washington, who you may have seen in the HBO series ‘Ballers, this was not his first appearance in a Spike Lee Joint: he had a cameo in ‘Malcolm X’ as a six-year-old when Lee directed his dad, Denzel, in the title role.
Lee and Washington talk about making ‘BlacKkKlansman,’ and Washington shares his experience of spending a lot of time as a kid in North Carolina, away from the Hollywood glare. Lee gets philosophical about being an artist and the dangerous allure of awards, and says that while the Academy may have overlooked ‘Do the Right Thing,’ history has not.
‘BlacKkKlansman’ has been nominated for top honors by all the major guilds this year--writers, directors, actors and producers. It won the Grand Prix at Cannes and the American Film Institute named it one of the top 10 films of 2018. As for oscar recognition? We’ll know when nominations are announced on January 22.