The man who inspired Spike Lee’s new movie, BlacKkKlansman, says that the man he conned forty years ago—none other than the KKK’s Grandwizard David Duke—is concerned that the critically acclaimed new film might make him look stupid.
The film, already considered to be one of Lee’s best in recent years, follows the journey of Ron Stallworth, Colorado Springs’ first black police officer, as he infiltrates the KKK. In an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt (h/t Deadline), Stallworth shared that Duke recently hit him up on the phone to talk about the movie.
“He’s only seen the trailer,” Stallworth told Holt. “And in the trailer, it makes him off to be a buffoonish, cartoonish idiot.”
When asked if that was a fair description of how Duke is portrayed in BlacKkKlansman, Stallworth responds, “in some areas, yeah. Spike made him look kind of stupid.”
“But he was stupid in how this whole thing transpired 40 years ago,” Stallworth said. “For me, 40 years ago, with a high school diploma and 20 college credit hours, to con him the way I did and make a fool up out of him, it was funny back then. It’s still funny to me now.”
According to Stallworth, Duke also complimented Lee in the phone conversation, confiding that he’s “always respected” the filmmaker.
“That’s a compliment I don’t need,” Lee quipped.
BlacKkKlansman, which opens nationwide on Friday, has been met with critical acclaim, garnering a 96 percent on Rotten Tomatoes so far and receiving a standing ovation at its showing in Cannes. Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers called the film a “hellraising masterpiece,” while Variety lauded it as a “major comeback” for Lee.