For nine weeks in the summer of 1988, a 31-year-old Spike Lee and his sprawling cast of talented actors and actresses – some brand-new discoveries, others Hollywood icons – took over a single block in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn. The resulting film, Do the Right Thing, was a clarion-call masterpiece of American cinema, a sweltering, urgent work of primary colors and complex morals that secured Lee’s place as the country’s most important black filmmaker.
Twenty-five years later, EW reassembled much of the cast on that very same block for its annual Reunions issue – including Lee, Rosie Perez, Ruby Dee, Giancarlo Esposito, Samuel L. Jackson, and more – for a trip down memory lane (or more specifically, Stuyvesant Avenue). Sal’s Famous Pizza may be long gone, and the neighborhood changed from the days when Radio Raheem blasted Public Enemy from his oversize boombox, but there’s still a lot of movie history there.
Watch Lee take us back to the days of filming Do the Right Thing, as well as a good-natured rant against “so-called journalists” who labelled the movie as incendiary, as well as a certain chauffeur-themed film that drove away with his Oscar.
Here, Lee and the cast reminisce about the experience of making the film, including Rosie Perez’s pugilistic opening credits dance. “Hours of doing the same dance,” the actress recalls in the video. “I developed tennis elbow from throwing those punches.” Lee confirms, “Oh, she wanted to kill me.”
And watch the Do the Right Thing reunion clip that aired today on Good Morning America.