Preparation For BlacKkKlansman Was Rough, According To Topher Grace

Topher Grace as David Duke in BlacKkKlansman

Judging by the trailer that was released earlier this week, BlacKkKlansman looks like it will be one of the more unusual cinematic offerings this summer season, but it's actually based off a true story. One of the main participants in this story is David Duke, the former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. That '70s Show and Spider-Man 3 star Topher Grace was tapped to play Duke for BlacKkKlansman, and with two decades of acting under his belt, Grace found the role especially difficult to tackle due to the intense preparation process. Grace recalled:

It was just the worst month of my life, doing research on that guy. I listened to a lot of his radio show, I watched Donahue --- because he was on that a lot --- and I read My Awakening, his autobiography, which is horrible. It's like Mein Kampf... Right before I started, we had a baby. I was walking around the house doing my lines, and she was like, 'Hey, can you tone it down on the hate speech?'

It's one thing to prepare to play a fictional villainous character, but when you're playing someone from real life who has spread hateful rhetoric, I can understand how that can take an emotional toll when preparing for the role. As Topher Grace explained to Vulture, he told his agents he wanted to be in contention to play David Duke in BlacKkKlansman since it was not like something he'd ever done before, and after reading for director Spike Lee, he obtained the part. But once Grace started reading David Duke's writings and listen to his speeches and public appearances, that's when he realized this would be more challenging than he thought. I can't blame Grace's wife for wanting him not to recite so much white supremacist material while around their newborn baby, but then again, if he was going to properly play Duke, it was necessary for him to do all that research.

Set in the early 1970s, BlacKkKlansman follows Detective Ron Stallworth, played by John David Washington, the first African-American detective in Colorado Springs, Colorado, working to infiltrate and expose the city's chapter of the Ku Klux Klan, which had started sanitizing its violent rhetoric to appeal to the mainstream. After establishing his cover over the phone to David Duke, Stallworth works with fellow detective Flip Zipperman, played by Adam Driver, to rise through the ranks of the organization's membership. The movie's cast also includes Laura Harrier, Corey Hawkins, Jasper Pääkkönen, Paul Walter Hauser, Ryan Eggold, Ashlie Atkinson, Robert John Burke, Craig Grant and Harry Belafonte. Focus Features has also put out new teaser art for BlacKkKlansman, which you can look at below.

BlacKkKlansman teaser art

Having just premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, BlacKkKlansman will be released in theaters on August 10. If you're interested in learning what other movies are coming out this year, look through our 2018 release schedule.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.