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The phrase "inspired by a true story" gets thrown around a lot in the movies, although adaptations of real life events can often end up vastly altered. And when the story is especially out of this world, movies can venture away from the truth. The newest real event adaptation is Spike Lee's BlacKkKlansman, which is based off the autobiography of the same name. The film follows as Detective Ron Stallworth infiltrates a chapter of the Ku Klux Klax in the 1970s, and starts an investigation into violent threats. Actor John David Washington plays Stallworth in BlacKkKlansman, and got to meet the real man during filming. I recently spoke to Washington about that process, and he told me:
Prior to the rehearsal I didn't get to. Spike kept me away from him, and I believe that was on purpose. And looking back I'm glad it happened that way. So when the table read happened, I got to meet him. And he passed around his membership card. He is a member of the Ku Klux Klan technically. So he passed it around, and that really brought it home for me. Seeing that card, holding it, while he was telling us his story at the table. It's hard to describe the feeling I had. I just got chills. Everything I researched about this man, he could have been a Marvel character. This myth. And then meeting him and holding that card. It's like, this happened. As the trailer says, this is for real shit. It was an incredible experience.
Talk about a powerful experience. John David Washington not only got to meet the real Ron Stallworth, but he actually got to hold the former detective's Ku Klux Klan card. BlacKkKlansman follows Stallworth's infiltration of a Colorado KKK chapter, with the helps of Adam Driver's Flip Zimmerman, who poses as Stallworth at meetings. Eventually they're able to ingratiate themselves enough for Ron to become the head of the chapter, in a moment of true narrative irony.
Meeting Ron Stallworth was no doubt helpful to inform John David Washington's vocalization and and physical performance in BlacKkKlansman. Although the flip side is that the Ballers actor might have felt added pressure after meeting the real life figure he was playing.
You can watch my conversation with John David Washington below.
Ultimately it seems that meeting Ron Stallworth paid off for John David Washington. His performance in BlacKkKlansman has been met with critical acclaim, including CinemaBlend's official review. And with Stallworth involved in some of the film's marketing, it looks like he was happy with the portrayal as well.
BlacKkKlansman is in theaters now. Be sue to check out our 2018 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.