PHOTOS: Spike Lee Visits Practice

Earlier this semester, Quinn Cook decided to write his final Writing 20 paper in Professor Katya Wesolowski’s “Documenting Lives” about Spike Lee.  The freshman guard is a big fan of Lee so the topic selection was an easy choice.

During the research stage of the paper, Quinn traveled to NYC to compete against Michigan State.  The legendary filmmaker is a huge basketball fan and happened to attend the game, seated in his usual spot in the first row at the Garden (which ended up being near the Duke bench).

As the game transpired, Quinn and our academic coordinator Kenny King were able to connect with Spike about a possible phone interview.  The end result, however, was even more amazing.  It turns out that Spike had agreed to speak to a large campus group last night at UNC as well as visit Duke to speak to Professor Maurice Wallace’s English 189 class, “The Films of Spike Lee.”

So, the film director/producer/writer/actor arranged with Kenny and Professor Wallace to stop by practice in Cameron beforehand.  Afterwards, Spike spoke with Coach K, posed for some photos and then sat down with Quinn.

Quinn asked the producer of over 35 films various questions about his favorite movie scenes, Denzel Washington, Malcolm X, movie production and more. Quinn and Spike also talked about Quinn’s recruiting process and NBA basketball.  Both guys enjoy Kobe Bryant (Kobe is Quinn’s favorite player and Spike made a movie about the Lakers star), and enjoyed sharing various predictions for the coming season.

One of the most memorable movie-related stories that Spike shared was about his work with Denzel Washington for the movie, Malcolm X.   When Quinn asked what it was like working with Denzel, Spike responded, “Denzel is the best actor alive today.  He knew he had to get the spirit of Malcolm to enter his vessel — his body — and then he could get the essence of the man.  How did he do that?   It’s the same thing with you athletes.  You gotta prepare.   You can’t just show up for the [game] and win.  Denzel started to prepare for Malcolm X a year before.  So for a year, he didn’t work on another movie.  He started to learn how to read in Arabic, how to read the Quran, how to pray in Arabic.  He stopped eating pork, he stopped drinking.  He thought, ‘I can’t be playing a Muslim and still be eating that pig.’  Can’t do it.  He knew if he did all of these things the spirit of Malcolm would come through.  That’s a true story.”

The pair spoke for almost 15 minutes before Spike headed over to campus to visit with Professor Wallace’s class.  Quinn shuffled back to the locker room with a big smile on his face.  “That was Spike Lee,” he said.  “That was Spike Lee!  Know him.”


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