“There’s obviously an importance to the story overall that you wanna get right,” says Adam Driver about the modern relevance of “BlacKkKlansman.” This latest Spike Lee film tells the true story of Ron Stallworth (John David Washington), a black police officer who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan with the help of Flip Zimmerman (Driver), a white officer acting as his surrogate. Watch our exclusive video interview above.
Though it’s set in the late 1970s, Lee makes direct references to both our past and present, beginning with scenes from D.W. Griffith‘s KKK-glorifying film “The Birth of a Nation” (1915) and ending with footage from the 2017 white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, VA. In providing that historical context, Driver believes the film shows “how much this has been a part of the conversation in this country for so long.”
Going undercover with the Klan also forces Flip to confront how his own Jewish heritage makes him a target of bigotry. “I think he’s maybe trained himself out of self-preservation to not take his work home with him,” Driver explains. “To survive and do this job, there almost has to be a level of it being impersonal. But then how can you not let what you’re saying affect you? Maybe actually sometimes taking it personal actually informs your decision, makes you better at your job.”
This is the first time Driver has worked with Lee, and the actor admits he “wasn’t anticipating how familial his set would be, that there’s so many people he’d been working with since ‘Do the Right Thing,’ so obviously there’s a shorthand.” As a director, Lee is “a very big advocate about following instincts, and following your first impulses, which is a different way of doing it. He likes to work very fast, and try to fit it in within a workday. Everybody gets in there in the morning, and then is at home for dinner.”
Though he has yet to compete at the Oscars, Driver received three Emmy nominations for Best Comedy Supporting Actor for “Girls” (2013-2015). He recently received a Best Actor Gotham nomination for “BlacKkKlansman,” a category he previously competed in for “Paterson” (2016).
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