The director, a Bernie Sanders supporter, compared candidates to characters in his movies just moments before interviewing the Democratic presidential candidate for a THR cover story. This story first appeared in the April 22 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe. Sanders has lined up an impressive roster of Hollywood endorsements: Susan Sarandon hit the campaign trail with him, Sarah Silverman’s Bernie video has logged nearly 30 million views on Facebook, Mark Ruffalo’s TV ad for him debuted April 4, and rapper Killer Mike hosted phone banks in Atlanta and has counseled Sanders on how to reach black voters. Spike Lee, who’s speaking and making ads on behalf of Sanders, talked to THR about the campaign just moments before his first meeting with the candidate.
What Spike Lee character is most like Bernie?
I would say the Ossie Davis character, the mayor, in Do the Right Thing.
Which Spike Lee character is most like Trump?
I mean, I did a film called Summer of Sam. (Laughs.) It was about the infamous summer of 1977, New York City [when so-called Son of Sam David Berkowitz killed six people]. And there was a certain person who had the whole city in terror.
Which Spike Lee character would be Hillary?
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in one of my films. … I would say the Ruby Dee role in Jungle Fever.
What’s the Bernie ad you would do to win over black voters in New York?
Well, we’re gonna be filming something tomorrow, and we’re gonna do the best we can.
Speaking of filming, would you ever make a Sanders documentary?
Will I ever make a documentary about Bernie From Brooklyn? That’s the title. If I do, that’s the title right there! Bernie From Brooklyn. You never know, you never know.
What’s your experience with Trump?
I met Trump several times at Knicks games, and he would be going to his seat behind the basket. We would shake hands. We said hello to each other. It was cordial. But that was way before this thing that’s happening now.