John David Washington is set to star in Black Klansman, a Spike Lee and Jordan Peele collaboration about a Black detective who infiltrated the KKK. Iconic writer/director/producer Spike Lee has a long history of innovation in film, experimenting with both visual and narrative style, as well as exploring racial, political, and social themes often neglected in mainstream movies. He first gained notice in the '80s with films like She's Gotta Have It and Do the Right Thing, and has collected 75 total directorial credits in film, TV, and documentaries since then.
He has collaborated with Oscar-winning actor Denzel Washington five times, including biographical film Malcolm X and heist drama Inside Man, the latter starring Clive Owen as the criminal and Washington and Chiwetel Ejiofor as the detectives on the case. Lee will be hoping for continued success by collaborating with another member of the Washington family for his newest film.
Black Klansman, based on the real-life tale of a Black police officer who infiltrated the KKK, will be directed and produced by Lee. Jordan Peele will also produce, along with his production partners from Get Out, the widely-acclaimed horror film that skewered horror tropes while examining the underlying racism amongst the "liberal" elite. According to THR, Denzel Washington's son John David Washington is in negotiations to star as Detective Ron Stallworth in the upcoming film.
Filming is set for this fall on Black Klansman, using a screenplay put together by Lee, Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, and Kevin Willmont. The fascinating story will focus on Stallworth's undercover work in 1970s Colorado Springs, where he not only gained membership to the Klan but became the head of the local chapter. The subterfuge, which began simply by answering a KKK ad in the newspaper, involved intricate teamwork with a fellow white officer who posed as Stallworth for any in-person meetings.
Though Lee and Peele have been working to get the film made for two years, its release in the near future will be perfect timing given recent events involving the white supremacy organization that many thought was all-but-dead. As the real Stallworth said about the KKK to VICE: "The very fact that it exists is what America should be concerned about. We should always be vigilant of that fact and be mindful of it and ready to combat it in whatever form it exists in."
The film could succeed on multiple levels, both as a thrilling heroic tale and by its unnerving connection to current events. It could also be a break-out role for Washington, who, as a former football player portraying a football player in HBO series Ballers, hasn't really had a chance to test out his dramatic skills. Considering his adeptness at charm and comedy, however, hopefully the filmmakers (who are themselves known for brilliant satire) will capitalize on what could be some sharply humorous moments in Stallworth's extensive infiltration of the KKK.
Stay tuned to Screen Rant for more updates on Black Klansman.