'BlacKkKlansman' Writer on the "Good Luck" Gifts He Gave Spike Lee Before Oscars

Charlie Wachtel — one of the Oscar-winning screenwriters of 'BlacKkKlansman' — dishes on his big night, from tequila shots with Brie Larson to the John David Washington-inspired gift he gave his director.
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Charlie Wachtel, far right, poses with Spike Lee, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott, Brie Larson and Samuel L. Jackson backstage at the Oscars on Feb. 24, 2019.

What a night Feb. 24 was for Charlie Wachtel.

He gifted Spike Lee a special good luck charm, downed tequila shots with Brie Larson and — perhaps the biggest highlight of Oscar night — fell asleep next to Hollywood's most coveted golden accessory. Wachtel, one of the screenwriters of Spike Lee's BlacKkKlansman, who won best adapted screenplay alongside Lee, David Rabinowitz and Kevin Willmott, recounted his big night for Brett Gursky on his On the List podcast for the Bleav Podcast Network. 

About that good luck charm, Wachtel said he found out that Lee is a "big sports card collector." Since he knows that world well and is also a fan, he rounded up a pair of cards to gift him. “I actually gave Spike Lee a little gift right before the ceremony even started,” Wachtel said, offering up that he delivered BlacKkKlansman actor John David Washington's NFL rookie card (Washington played for the Rams while the team was in St. Louis before accepting the role of Ron Stallworth) along with a Reggie Miller game jersey basketball card. “I told him, ‘because Reggie’s clutch,’ and this is for good luck tonight.'"

Charms aside, Wachtel described winning the Oscar as surreal, especially the part of accepting their prize from Larson and her Captain Marvel costar Samuel L. Jackson. When Wachtel heard his name called, he said that he experienced moments of blacking out before heading to stand onstage with Lee. Offstage, “Then Larson asks us if [we] want to take shots,” Wachtel said. “So she takes us to the back bar area, [and] we’re doing tequila shots.”

Wachtel hoped the night would never end. “I [had] said from the very beginning if we win somehow I’m not going to sleep tonight. Period. Until I did,” he said. “I believe I went to sleep with the Oscar next to me.”

The next day, Lee showed his Oscar appreciation and gave Wachtel a shout-out for winning the Oscar by posting “a close-up of the plaque of his Oscar on his Instagram,” Gursky said before further explaining that the plaque had “Spike Lee and Charlie Wachtel on the same line.”

It wasn't all Oscar talk on Gursky's podcast, however. Wachtel also looked back on his Hollywood beginnings as an intern at Weed Road, the production company of Oscar-winning writer Akiva Goldsman. “There was a whole lot of copying books on the copy machine, getting coffee for executives,” Wachtel said. “I knew the difference between a latte and a cappuccino cause I had previously worked at Starbucks.”