December 3, 2018
Photo by Lars Niki/Getty Images for MoMA The Contenders
Do The Right Thing, Spike Lee‘s 1989 classic movie almost had a different ending. Yes, that’s right! The film tackles race relations and cultural tensions like no other, and is centered on the hottest day of summer, on a single block in Brooklyn. Some would say, the unconventional ending doesn’t quite give them the closure were expecting.
The closing scene of the movie shows the after affect of the character, Radio Raheem’s (Bill Nunn) death by the police. Mookie, played by Lee throws a trash can into the window of the pizza shop where he works, which causes a riot in the neighborhood. The next day, Mookie comes to his boss for his pay, in which a tense discussion happens about who did the right thing, leaving the two characters in a stand still position.
No words. Can you even imagine if it ended any differently?
The director recently sat down with Hollywood Reporter’s Awards Chatter podcast and admitted that Paramount Pictures, where the movie was originally housed, allegedly wanted a cleaner, more friendly ending. Possibly one where the Black and white characters made up at the end. The production company was fine with the film, until it came to the ending.
“They [Paramount] wanted to do it, but at the last minute, a week before going into pre-production, they wanted a script change. They wanted Mookie and Sal to hug at the end of the movie…I wasn’t doing that, so I called up my friend Sam Kitt, who was the executive at Universal. He got it that Friday. He got it to [former Universal Pictures Production President] Sean Daniels, he got it to [former Chairman of Universal Pictures] Tom Pollock, and a couple of days later, we were at Universal.”
And that was the end of that!
Spike is still testing the limits and showing the truth of race relations to this day because, most times, it’s not pretty like Hollywood wants to package it up to be. One of his most recent movies, BlacKkKlansman, starring John David Washington, follows the 1979 story of the first African-American police officer in Colorado Springs, Colorado, who works undercover to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan.
TELL US: Are you glad Spike Lee didn’t change the ending?