John David Washington Talks '70s Inspiration, "Contemporary Feel" of 'BlacKkKlansman'
'BlacKkKlansman' stars John David Washington, Topher Grace and Laura Harrier discuss their latest film, directed by Spike Lee, In Studio.
"One thing, for sure, that I took away from [BlacKkKlansman] is the language, the verbalization of this hatred, and how generational that is," the star of Spike Lee's latest film, John David Washington, told The Hollywood Reporter. "That hatred and these words that are used, that is very divisive.
"That language, as it's repetitive and taught and instituted, that's how it gets the longevity and where it is today. So this film, it is a period piece, but it has a very contemporary feel to it. And it's because of these words, these trigger words, that are used often."
Topher Grace, who plays the former grand wizard of the KKK David Duke, contrasted his character development to the film's other stars, saying that he got the call from Lee about the role and though Grace believed Duke was "a terrible man, but it's a really juicy, great role. And then I realized, I'm in for the worst month of my life right now."
Grace said he read Duke's autobiography and checked out his appearances on The Phil Donahue Show to get Duke's mannerisms down. "I watched a lot of filmed interviews from the '70s. I listened to his radio show. It was just so overwhelmingly depressing."
Laura Harrier, whose character is an amalgamation of multiple real-life people, met with prominent civil rights figures Angela Davis and Kathleen Cleaver. Of Cleaver, Harrier said, "She is such an inspiring woman and this huge figure of the black power movement."
"Spike invited us all over to his house, and she just told her story and explained how she got involved with the [Black] Panthers, and her relationship with Eldridge [Cleaver], and their life together," Harrier told THR. "It was really inspiring just on a human level, outside of my character, she's just someone I've looked up to for so long."
Harrier also read Davis' writings, along with a reading list given to her by Lee of nearly 20 books, in addition to watching The Black Panther Mixtape.
When asked how his father, Denzel, felt about the film, Washington said, "I think he's a proud parent. Both of my parents are very proud."
Harrier said she sat in front of the elder Washington at the New York premiere, "and he was laughing so loud at all the jokes. He was in it. He was super loud," she said, "right behind me."
"My dad loved it, too," Grace added.
BlacKkKlansman is now in theaters.