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BlacKkKlansman (2018) Poster

Trivia

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The real Ron Stallworth had originally wanted Denzel Washington to play him, but was ecstatic to find out his son got the role.
Contrary to popular belief, the real Ron Stallworth never used a "white" voice on the phone. He ironically had to use his real voice or they would have caught him if he slipped out of character. When his white colleagues told him it could not work, he asked what made his voice any different from theirs and they never answered.
According to editor Barry Alexander Brown, there were no deleted scenes for the movie, a rarity in the industry.
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John David Washington has said that the toughest time on set was filming the banquet scene. He later called Ron Stallworth to ask how he had contained himself amid such hatred when dealing with the actual KKK.
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Determined to get the part of Felix, Jasper Pääkkönen arrived at his audition in character, speaking in an American accent and refusing to divulge his background until asked directly by Spike Lee. When Pääkkönen revealed he was Finnish, Lee expressed his amazement and told him he had been completely convinced that Pääkkönen was American, and cast him in the role.
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This film contains clips from The Birth of a Nation (1915). When Spike Lee was a student at NYU Film School, he was so outraged that his professors taught the movie with no mention of its racist message or its role in the Klan's 20th century rebirth that he made The Answer (1980) as a response. Many professors took great offense, and Lee was nearly expelled. He ultimately was saved by a faculty vote. After Lee's film industry success, he became a professor at NYU Film School, and Artistic Director of the Graduate Film Department.
Actor Topher Grace said in an interview with IndieWire that portraying David Duke left him feeling depressed, so as an act of catharsis, he took on the project of editing Peter Jackson's trilogy of films based on The Hobbit into a single two-hour movie.
When producer Jordan Peele first pitched "Black man infiltrates Ku Klux Klan" to Spike Lee, Lee first thought it might be a suitable Dave Chappelle skit, until Peele assured him the story was authentic. For Lee, the story was too outrageous to ignore. He had a few conditions for directing: including comedic elements, and drawing parallels with contemporary racial issues.
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The film is dedicated to Heather Heyer, who was fatally hit by a car while protesting the "Unite the Right" rally held on August 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, VA. The film opened in the US on August 10, 2018 to mark the first anniversary of the rally and her death.
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John David Washington claimed that although he had known Spike Lee due to his father Denzel Washington's long collaboration with him, the two of them were not close acquaintances prior to this film. In fact, when Washington received a text message from Lee saying he wanted to talk about a role, he wasn't sure whether to believe it, since he did not have Lee's number in his contact list and had never received a text from him before.
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Topher Grace spent a month researching David Duke, including reading Duke's autobiography and watching footage of him. Grace claimed that he found Duke to be even more of a racist than he had assumed, but found most frightening Duke's ability to make himself charming to an audience in spite of his racism, and that is what he wanted to come through in his performance.
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The real David Duke called Ron Stallworth to express his concern over his "buffoonish, cartoonish idiot" portrayal in the film. Duke also said he respected director Spike Lee. After seeing the film, he was not pleased that the film did not follow the events of the book.
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With a box office take of $89 million, this is Spike Lee's second-most successful film after Inside Man (2006).
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Director Spike Lee and his writers moved the story back seven years from when it actually took place in 1978 to 1979. This allowed the film to reference both the then trendy blaxploitation movies and the re-election campaign, supposedly supported by the Klan, of President Richard Nixon.
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Coincidentally, John David Washington made his film debut as a six-year-old Harlem classroom student in Spike Lee's Malcolm X (1992), which featured his father, Denzel Washington, and his grandmother, Lennis Washington.
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This film depicts D.W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation (1915) being screened at a Klan ceremony during the 1970s. This is an accurate representation of how the modern Klan really did still use Griffith's century-old, silent, black-and-white movie for propaganda purposes at least into the early 2000s. In his 2002 book "THEM: Adventures with Extremists," Jon Ronson recounts his visit to a KKK compound in Arkansas for their annual National Congress meeting. After a variety of racist speeches and a cross-burning, the Klan members enjoyed a screening of "The Birth of a Nation".
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BlacKkKlansman is Spike Lee's first Oscar win for Best Adapted Screenplay.
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Spike Lee and Topher Grace have the same agent. Lee claims he normally, as a rule, never asks his agent to pass on an offer to a client she represents, but made an exception for Grace.
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During an interview with Dave Karger at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, Topher Grace said that once he got the role, and during the filming, he was not allowed to tell anyone that he was playing David Duke.
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In an interview, Finnish actor Jasper Pääkkönen stated that his experience of witnessing racism daily while living in America as a teen helped him prepare for his role of a Klansman.
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Laura Harrier's character Patrice is a fictional construction for the film.
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Mr. Turrentine (Isiah Whitlock Jr) says his trademark "Sheeeeeee-it" spoken by his character Clay Davis from The Wire (2002). He first used this trademark in The 25th Hour (2002), another film directed by Spike Lee.
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John David Washington is the son of Denzel Washington, who appeared in four films directed by Spike Lee.
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One of the clips that director Spike Lee uses to open the film is from Gone with the Wind (1939). This movie is frequently cited as one of the greatest masterpieces of all time, but it is also controversial for its depiction of slave-holding white Americans as sympathetic, Afro-American slaves as servile and dim-witted, and its omission of common treatments of slaves, such as chaining and whipping.
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Director Spike Lee received a six-minute standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival after the premiere of the film.
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This was the first Spike Lee film since Oldboy (2013) to be shot on film. Although the past three or four films of his were all digital, Lee expressed his passion for shooting on celluloid film.
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Spike Lee claimed that when he first heard of the murder of Heather Heyer, President Obama was playing a game of golf near his home in Martha's Vineyard and Lee went to talk to him about the incident.
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With this film, Spike Lee became the second Black American to be nominated at the Academy Awards for producing, writing and directing in the same year. The first Black American to accomplish this feat was in fact Jordan Peele, one of the film's producers, who was nominated the year prior for Get Out (2017). Both men were awarded Oscars for their writing achievements.
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Spike Lee and John David Washington are both graduates of Morehouse College, a historically black school in Atlanta, Georgia. Frequent Spike Lee collaborator Sam Jackson is also a graduate.
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With this film, Spike Lee became the first Black filmmaker to win a competitive Oscar after receiving an Honorary Academy Award.
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BlacKkKlansman (2018) premiered on May 14, 2018 at the Cannes Film Festival, where it competed for the Palme d'Or and won the Grand Prix. It was theatrically released in the United States on August 10, 2018, coinciding with the first anniversary of the Unite the Right rally.
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In 2019, Spike Lee became the first black person to be nominated for the Academy Awards for both Best Original Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay. He was nominated for writing Do the Right Thing (1989) and BlacKkKlansman (2018), respectively.
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John David Washington was in Cincinnati filming The Old Man & the Gun (2018) when he was offered a key role by Spike Lee without any audition. This would mark Washington's first major part in a Lee feature.
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Patrick Weller, who plays Master Patrolman Andy Landers, is the nephew of actor Peter Weller, who famously portrayed RoboCop, a role that was taken over by Robert John Burke, who plays Chief Bridges in this film.
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Jason Blum, whose company Blumhouse produced the movie, normally has a rule that original films should never cost more than $5 million and sequels never more than $15 million. However, he was happy to make an exception for BlacKkKlansman (2018), as director and writer Spike Lee is one of his heroes.
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The music used during the Charlottesville sequence was Terence Blanchard's main theme from Inside Man.
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Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
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Director trademark: Ron uses the phrase "I got it. I'm gone." This was previously uttered by Mookie in "Do the Right Thing" (1989), after Da Mayor tells him to "always do the right thing".
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While attending the Klan ceremony, Ron silently regards a conspicuously Caucasian portrait of Jesus. Malcolm X includes a scene with characters debating the historical accuracy of Jesus' complexion in artwork.
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During the Kwame Ture rally, you can hear a female shout "fuck the police" while the two undercover cops are listening in outside. The actor portraying the Ture character is Corey Hawkins who portrayed Dr. Dre in the film Straight Out of Compton. Fuck the Police was a song that Dr. Dre produced with his band NWA.
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The film is produced by Spike Lee, Raymond Mansfield, Shaun Redick, Sean McKittrick, Jason Blum, and Jordan Peele. Redick purchased the film rights to the book in 2015, and Lee signed on as director in September 2017. Much of the cast joined the following month, and filming began in New York State (Ossining, New York).
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As of 2019, this is the Best Picture Oscar nominee with the longest one-word title.
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John David Washington & Isiah Whitlock Jr. also appeared together as Southern police officers in The Old Man & the Gun (2018).
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Topher Grace and Laura Harrier both appeared in Spider-Man franchises. 2007's Spider-Man 3 (Topher Grace as Eddie Brock/Venom) and 2017's Spider-Man: Homecoming (Laura Harrier as Liz Allan).
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Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

David Duke did not discover that Ron Stallworth was a Black man until 2006, when a Miami Herald reporter contacted him for his side of the story.
The real Ron Stallworth claimed that one of his biggest regrets of the investigation not being made public is that, had it been revealed, David Duke would have been made a fool for having been conned by a black man and might not have continued his political career.
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The story that Harry Belafonte relates about Jesse Washington is a real incident that occurred in 1916. For Belafonte's cameo in which he tells the story, Spike Lee insisted that all crew on set dress in formal attire.
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The final shot is of an American flag in black-and-white, depicted upside-down. In the USA, hanging a flag upside-down is a signal of distress or emergency. When used as a sign of protest, it is meant to signify political or civic distress.
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The real Ron Stallworth kept his Klan membership card and unexpectedly revealed while promoting the film that he still carries it in his wallet. Stallworth joked that he was amused at the prospect of someone discovering it in his personal effects after his death. His KKK membership card, simply signed, "Duke" (David Duke), had the pledge outlined on the back as follows: I Pledge -
  • 1. to untiringly work for the preservation, protection, and advancement of the White race
  • 2. to forever be loyal to the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan - as the only true Klan
  • 3. to obey all orders from officers of the Empire
  • 4. to keep secret all fellow members and Klan rituals
  • 5. to never discuss any Klan affairs with any plain clothes officers on a state, local or national level
  • 6. fulfill social, fraternal, and financial obligations to this order as long as I live
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The Charlottesville (VA) "Unite the Right" rally (Aug. 2017) occurred while the movie was in the editing phase, prompting Spike Lee to include the tragic event as an apt way to conclude his film. As a gesture of respect for the tragic murder of Heather Heyer during the rally, he asked Heyer's mother Susan Bro for permission to include the media footage followed by a dedication in the closing credits to Heyer's memory.
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Prince sings "Mary, Don't You Weep" over the end credits. It's a previously unreleased live rehearsal recording.
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DIR. TRADEMARK: When Ron and Patrice enter the hallway with their guns drawn, they are standing on a moving platform making it appear they are gliding down the hall. A technique frequently used by Spike Lee.
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The Klan members screening The Birth of a Nation (1915) is relevant for several reasons. As previously mentioned, the movie has been repeatedly praised it for its technical merits, while opponents (including Spike Lee) claim that its overt racist message is being consistently ignored. One of the novel techniques employed by the movie is parallel editing, e.g. in the scene where a white woman is being menaced by a black man (a white actor in blackface), which is intercut with shots of Klan members heroically coming to her rescue. Many feel that the technique glorified the KKK to the point of white supremacist propaganda, which actually renewed interest in the Klan in the early 20th century. Lee actually employs the same technique in his own movie twice, for the reverse purpose of criticism: once in the scene where the Klan members watch Birth of a Nation, which is intercut with the Jerome Turner's dramatic account of the lynching of a young black man; and in the end, where footage from the 2017 "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville is intercut with President Donald Trump's press conference where he refused to condemn the white supremacist, and called some of them "fine people".
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The film is based on the 2014 memoir Black Klansman by Ron Stallworth. Original literary source: "Black Klansman. A Memoir", book by Ron Stallworth, Policed and Fire Publishing, Spartanburg (South Carolina), 16-1-2014, ISBN: 9781936986316.
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During the Klan ceremony toward the end of the film, one of the Klansmen uses the phrase "Make America Great Again." This is a reference to President Donald Trump's campaign slogan.
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The music used during the ending scene and closing montage is a track called "Photo Ops" originally composed by Terrence Blanchard for Spike Lee's film Inside Man. Lee has also used it in his documentaries When the Levees Broke and If God is Willing and Da Creek Don't Rise.
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Adam Driver's character was named Flip Zimmerman. His character was a Jewish man pretending to be non-Jewish, while using a black man's name (Ron Stallworth). Danny Hoch, who played Agent Y in this film, also played a character named Flip in the 1999 film Whiteboyz. That character was a white man pretending to be black.
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