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The upcoming Spike Lee joint BlacKkKlansman has tricks up its sleeve, and actor Paul Walter Hauser — who plays a ditzy KKK member named Ivanhoe — says he knows just how the film will bring together audiences from all walks of life.
“I hope people with racist and ignorant tendencies watch it, find that they’re entertained, charmed and moved, and then hopefully compelled to think about how they act and feel,” the I, Tonya actor told The Hollywood Reporter at the BlacKkKlanmsan premiere Wednesday night at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills.
Along with the film’s cast, including John David Washington and Topher Grace, stars Dave Chappelle — who posed for photos with director Spike Lee (wearing a T-shirt featuring an image of the late Prince) — and Terry Crews came together to support the film.
BlacKkKlansman is based on true events involving a black Colorado Springs detective (played by Washington) in the 1970s infiltrating the KKK with the help of cop Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver). Along the way, detective Ron Stallworth encounters love (Laura Harrier plays activist Patrice Dumas) and an up-close look at a whole lot of hate.
“These kinds of characters are the most difficult I could ever imagine for an actor to play,” said Jasper Paakkonen, who portrays loose-cannon KKK member Felix. “You’re dealing with the darkest possible things in the human psyche.”
didn’t want it to play like a period piece. He wanted it to play out in a contemporary way,” ‘BlacKkKlansman’ co-writer Kevin Willmott tells The Hollywood Reporter of the upcoming film.”]
The premiere of BlacKkKlansman coincides with the one-year anniversary of the Charlottesville, Virginia, riots and protest, a purposeful decision, according to Lee. On the weekend of Aug. 11-12, 2017, hundreds of white nationalists marched at a Unite the Right rally, leading to a woman’s death after a man said to be a neo-Nazi allegedly backed his car into a crowd of counter-protestors. (After being charged in state court in connection with her death, a federal grand jury indicted him on federal hate crimes.)
Exposing the dark parts of society, like that of the Charlottesville protests, was a goal for co-writer Kevin Willmott. Willmott said he got to see a man at a prior screening of the film in Kansas City change his attitude about voting for President Trump after watching the movie, particularly after the final sequence featuring footage of the Charlottesville protests.
“At the end of the film, when we give him the gut punch, he turns to me and says: ‘I voted for Trump, but I’m not like that. I don’t believe in that,'” he said.
The real Stallworth, who was the inspiration behind the film and author of the book from which the movie was adapted, also was in attendance Wednesday. Stallworth had choice words to say when asked what he thinks of the current state of racism in the age of Trump.
“Donald Trump is nothing more than the ideological leader of the white supremacy movement, as far as I’m concerned,” he said. “With all due respect to your readers, Trump can kiss my BlacKkKlansman black ass.”
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