Spike Lee has added fuel to the fire of rumors circulating that his 1989 movie classic, “Do the Right Thing,” could be headed to Broadway, telling Entertainment Weekly to expect one major difference between the big screen version and the stage.
“I’ll just direct it,” Lee, 56, told the magazine. “I’ll write it and direct but I’m too old to play Mookie.”
Lee broke the news that he is no longer young enough to play the movie’s lead role, a young black man living in a mostly black neighborhood in Brooklyn, as the entire cast gathered to reminisce for Entertainment Weekly’s annual Reunions issue.
Twenty-five years after the movie, ranked by the American Film Institute as one of the top 100 U.S. films of all time, made its debut, its stars took a walk down memory lane, literally, walking the same Brooklyn streets where the movie was filmed.
“I remember the opening scene [because] everyone on Twitter reminds me of it,” said Rosie Perez, laughing, who played Tina, Mookie’s girlfriend, and made her name at the film’s start by dancing in boxing trunks to Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power.”
“Eight hours of doing the same dance, I developed tennis elbow for throwing those punches,” Perez, 49, said. “Yeah, I’m still mad at Spike for that.”
Recalled Lee: “After one point she said, ‘Spike, you can fire me. Do whatever you want to do, but I can’t do it anymore.’ And I said, ‘We got it Rosie.’”
Threats of quitting aside, the film marked a monumental moment in the careers of its cast, earning an Oscar nomination for Danny Aiello, who played Sal, and turning other actors – including Samuel L. Jackson and John Turturro – into household names.
“‘Do the Right Thing’ changed my career completely,” said Giancarlo Esposito, 55, who played Buggin’ Out. “The film really put me on the map as a character actor and it really changed my life.”
The film also made a mark on race relations in America by telling the story of a neighborhood in Brooklyn that explodes into a fierce race riot.
“It crossed a lot of boundaries, and I think that’s the thing that made it such a poignant, strong [and] controversial film,” said Frankie Faison, who played Coconut Sid.
“That film took the world by storm,” Lee said. “People still call me Mookie today.”
If Lee does end up writing the Broadway version of “Do the Right Thing,” what remains to be seen is whether he can beat his own writing record, and make another smash, cultural hit.
“I wrote that script in 10 days,” Lee said. “It just came and they keep bringing us back for photo shoots every five years and people still talk about it.”