Clint Eastwood has hit back over comments Spike Lee made about him during the Cannes film festival last month.
During a late-May interview, Lee, who is in the process of promoting his own film, “Miracle at St. Anna,” about an all-black division of soldiers during World War II, lashed out at Eastwood for not including African American faces in two of his movies covering the same time period.
“He did two films about Iwo Jima back to back and there was not one black soldier in both of those films,” Lee told reporters. “Many veterans, African Americans, who survived that war are upset at Clint Eastwood. In his vision of Iwo Jima, Negro soldiers did not exist. Simple as that. I have a different version.”
In an interview published today in the UK newspaper, The Guardian, Eastwood responded to the criticism, going so far as to say Lee should “shut his face.”
“Has he ever studied the history?” Eastwood, 78, asked. “That was his version. The Negro version did not exist.”
Eastwood said there were black troops in Iwo Jima, “but they didn’t raise the flag. The story is ‘Flags of Our Fathers,’ the famous flag-raising picture, and they didn’t do that,” Eastwood said. “If I go ahead and put an African American actor in there, people’d go, ‘This guy’s lost his mind.’ I mean, it’s not accurate.”
The veteran filmmaker said this isn’t the first time he has been criticized by Lee.
“He was complaining when I did ‘Bird’ [1988’s Charlie Parker biopic]. Why would a white guy be doing that? I was the only guy who made it, that’s why. He could have gone ahead and made it. Instead he was making something else,” Eastwood said.
Eastwood’s latest film, “Changeling,” with Angelina Jolie, is set in Depression-era Los Angeles, prior to a large influx of African Americans moving there and changing the metropolis’ cultural make-up.
“What are you going to do, you gonna tell a f***in’ story about that?” he asked. “Make it look like a commercial for an equal opportunity player? I’m not in that game. I’m playing it the way I read it historically, and that’s the way it is. When I do a picture and it’s 90 percent black, like ‘Bird,’ I use 90 percent black people.”
Eastwood then added, according to the Guardian, advice for Lee.
“A guy like him should shut his face,” he said.