LG: There’s got to be a comprehensive inclusion of our stories. When we do something relevant, we get nominated right away. Denzel, Forest, Morgan or Jamie probably get nominated once a year because they’re that great. Let’s not worry about the small [number] of blacks getting nominated at the Oscars. Let’s look at the product. And worship those guys with relevant stories.
It’s my prayer that Spike Lee gets his money so he can do more relevant stuff, and Antoine Fuqua, too. There are so many stories that Halle Berry could do, Forest Whitaker. And we can’t measure it with our inclusion in the Oscars and the Emmys. We just have to do it.
TR: Did you see Django Unchained? What were your thoughts?
LG: Great movie. Great performances. Too many n-words. I’m not against Django. The first time I saw it, I was the only black man in the screening room … I’m sitting in the back, and every time the n-word happened, every white person sitting in that room turned around and looked at me. I said, “You all can kiss my butt,” and I left. I had to go somewhere else to see the movie. I just got uncomfortable watching the movie and people turning around and looking at me.
I’m getting ready to be 77, and I was around when the n-word was used to inflict pain … I figure there’s a better way to tell that story with not so many [slurs]. You can use them. But you have to know that it still touches me.
TR: Do you think a black director could have done that movie?
LG: I think so. But they would’ve done it in a different way. Jamie did a brilliant job. Django is a great character. My secret wish — because of my 60 years in this business — I wish that he would do [the black cowboy] Deadwood Dick, who was Nat Love, and put those dolls out for our kids to idolize and know that that’s a real character, a man of history. Nat Love was the greatest cowboy ever.
Then there was Bass Reeves, who was the number one marshal, not Wyatt Earp. We should know that on our fingertips; we should know that information. Nat Love’s the greatest cowboy ever in the West. How come there’s never been a movie about that man?
TR: How long did you deal with alcoholism?