Inside Man: Spike Lee’s Secret Movie Story

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Inside Man: Spike Lee's Secret Movie Story
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The creation of the film worn by Clive Owen, Denzel Washington and Jodie Foster took several years.

Tonight, in France, Spike lee plunges us into the twists and turns of a robbery much more complex than it seems with Inside man, released in theaters in 2006 (note that it will be followed successful thriller A handsome thug, with Swann Arlaud, unpublished in clear). Breaking film which is ultimately not one, Inside man recycles the codes of the genre in the service of an ever-strong political message coming from the most politicized of New York filmmakers. Worn by a casting led by Denzel Washington, Clive owen and Jodie foster, it remains one of the most popular and accomplished films in Lee’s filmography, bringing it its biggest theatrical success in the process with more than $ 180 million in revenue.

Celebrated for its devious script and for its learned twists, Inside man is also the fruit of a long history, which began in total anonymity and which, several years later, would culminate in one of the most striking films of 2006. from the filmography of Spike lee.

Russell Gewirtz, an iconoclastic screenwriter

The genesis ofInside man begins on the initiative of a novice screenwriter, Russell gewirtz, a young thirty-something with a unique background. A computer science graduate before taking the New York bar exam, he ran the family clothing business for a few years. At the end of the 1990s, when he imagined the first ideas which would lead to the script which had become so famous d‘Inside Man, he decides to give up everything and, with the jackpot recovered during a real estate transaction, and decides to travel around the world while putting an end to his screenplay, which he writes on his own by studying some already existing scenarios .

In an interview from 2006, Gewirtz went back to the unconventional genesis of the film’s script, given birth through its various stages: “Five years ago, I was writing this stuff when I was living like a wanderer. I stopped in very beautiful places like Miami, Brazil or the south of France. I wrote the story without knowing if I was really going to become a screenwriter or not. I’ve never read a book about it. I just hoped I wasn’t wasting my time. I put everything I had in it. But I wasn’t wondering if I wanted it to be a $ 50 million movie or a $ 500,000 movie. I just wanted it to be one or the other“.

In the summer of 2002, Gewirtz was on the Mediterranean coast when he found his friend, the producer Daniel M. Rosenberg. Seduced by the project, Rosenberg helps him edit the script and find a studio interested in the project. This studio will be Universal, through the producer Brian Grazer and its subsidiary Imagine Entertainment. The project, which was still called at the time The Inside Man, is renamed so as to remove the definite article.

A project created for Ron Howard

When Brian Grazer arrives at the head of the project, the name of Spike lee does not return in studio conversations yet, however. Imagine Entertainment is indeed not only Grazer’s baby, but that of its co-founder, the filmmaker. Ron howard. Very interested at first in Inside manHowever, Howard must quickly throw in the towel due to a scheduling conflict. Russell crowe, who has just committed to From the shadow to the light, absolutely wants it to lead it.

For several weeks, Brian Grazer will tour the free directors, while Gewirtz’s screenplay is for its part tweaked by some luxury script doctors like Menno Meyjes (The color purple, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade) and Terry george (In the name of the father, Hotel Rwanda). At the same time, Meyjes in turn refuses to direct the film he collaborated on.

It will ultimately be a meeting with Spike lee which will decide Grazer to offer him the realization of the film. For several years, the two men have been discussing possible collaborations, including a biopic by James Brown (Get on Up, released in 2014) which ironically took more than ten years to be produced … before Grazer fired Lee and replaced him with Tate taylor. It will finally be Inside man which will push the two men to work together. This meeting, Grazer remembered it at the time of the film’s release. in these terms : “The time we met, Spike said to me: ‘We’ve had bad matches and false starts, but I promise you’ll end well.’ He looked me straight in the eye, grabbed me by the arm and said, ‘Let’s work together’“.

The best of fake heist movies

Seduced by the guideline ofInside man, Spike lee finally landed the making of the film, which would become a few years later his biggest commercial success (and which remains so to this day). “Russell Gewirtz had written an original and intriguing variation of the heist film“, he explained in an interview with journalist Emanuel Levy in 2006. “I liked the script and really wanted to direct it. Sidney Lumet’s Doggy Afternoon is one of my favorite movies, and this story was a modern take on those kind of movies.“.

Spike Lee – Denzel Washington, reunion

Inside man marks the fourth collaboration between Spike lee and one of his favorite actors, Denzel Washington after Mo ‘Better Blues, Malcolm X (which won the actor the Silver Bear for Best Actor at the Berlinale and an Oscar nomination in 1992) and He got game. In Inside man, he is Detective Keith Frazier, the police officer in charge of negotiating with the robbers and defusing the bank robbery.

A particularly logical choice in view of the actor’s taste for the roles of good guys, but which could have been quite otherwise. Indeed, when Spike lee Approaching his longtime friend to offer him to play in Inside Man, he offered him the choice between the two main characters: Frazier and Dalton Russell, the leader of the robber team. The reasons for Denzel’s decision, as Lee recalls in an interview for the Total Film website, had also almost pushed Clive owen to refuse the role. “When you’re dealing with someone like Denzel, you don’t tell him what role to play. So I said, ‘Look, there are two roles in this movie: the bank robber and the good guy “. He said, ‘Spike, I owe the cop, you can’t see the other guy’s face in the whole movie!’ And in the end, when I offered the role [de Dalton Russell] to Clive, the first thing he said was, ‘Spike, I want to do it, but we’re not gonna see my face in the whole movie!’

The scenario will therefore be rewritten in order to reserve several scenes on the screen where Russell will appear with his face uncovered. A solution that reassured Clive owen and convinced him to accept the role: “To play whole scenes where you are masked, hidden behind glasses or a hood, it is very strange because acting relies a lot on the intention, and the intention often comes through the gaze. And to be suddenly deprived of it with that gaze barrier was very disarming“.

The cast of Inside man is the opportunity to attend other meetings between regulars of the cinema of Spike lee since Christopher plummer, who plays the boss of the robbed bank, was already in the casting of Malcolm X while Chiwetel Ejiofor, who plays here the partner of Frazier, was present in She hate me. And he also pays himself the luxury of making two winks at A doggy afternoon, the reference film of Spike lee by offering two cameos to two actors from Lumet’s film. Marcia Jean Kurtz in each film embodies one of the hostages of the robbers while Lionel pina, who played a pizza delivery boy in the 1975 film, stars in Inside man a policeman … who brings pizzas to his colleagues.

The story ofInside Man, the inside man : A cop, accused of having embezzled the money of a dealer, is responsible for arresting an ingenious bank robber, whose new heist turns into hostage-taking. Very quickly, he suspected that the breakage was not motivated by money. The intervention of an ambitious negotiator will complicate the situation.

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