Director Spike Lee’s new movie, “BlacKkKlansman,” focuses on the hate group’s activities in Colorado, but Louisiana doesn’t get a pass. That’s because a major character in the film, based on the true story of an African-American cop who infiltrated a local Klan outpost in the 1970s, is none other than former state rep, convicted criminal, and perennial Louisiana political candidate David Duke.
And like just about every time Duke resurfaces, emotions are running high — and not just among potential ticket buyers.
The actor who signed on to play the role, Topher Grace (no relation as far as I know), has said he found the experience of trying to understand someone who’s “full of hate” downright depressing. Grace told Vulture that he immersed himself in the character by watching Duke's old television appearances on “Donahue,” listening to his radio show and reading his autobiography “My Awakening,” which the actor likened to “Mein Kampf.”
“It was just the worst month of my life,” Grace said.
Also kind of stressed, it turns out, is Duke himself.
The real-life cop on whom the movie is based, Ron Stallworth, told NBC’s Lester Holt that Duke called him up recently to vent his concerns. Perhaps surprisingly, Duke said he respects Lee, whose prior films include a biopic of Malcom X and whose politics are about as different from Duke’s as possible, according to vice.com. Lee reportedly called Duke’s nod a “compliment I don’t need.”
But he supposedly told Stallworth that he’s worried the highly anticipated film will make him look like a “buffoonish, cartoonish idiot.”
Spike Lee plays with fire in “BlacKkKlansman.” There will be burning crosses.
Maybe someone should tell Duke that he needn’t worry. As his fellow Louisianans have long since known, Duke doesn’t have a lot of demonstrable talents other than drawing attention to himself, most recently by showing up at white supremacist protests like the one last year in Charlottesville, Virginia.
But he doesn’t need anyone else to paint him as a buffoon, a cartoon character or an idiot. He’s been doing that all on his own for years.