Last week I realized a dream, I hung out inside Spike Lee’s 40 Acres and a Mule office in Brooklyn. And aside from squealing with excitement and snapping photos of the memorabilia decorating the walls like a rabid fan, I sat down with actor Nate Parker to talk about his work in Lee’s Red Hook Summer, which hit select theaters across the U.S. on Friday.
Following Da Good Bishop Enoch Rouse, played by Clarke Peters of The Wire fame, the film swirls around Rouse’s attempts to foster a relationship with his grandson Flick, who is visiting from Atlanta and staying in his grandfather’s project apartment in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Amidst the hood’s colorful characters, which include glimpses of Mookie from Do The Right Thing and Nola Darling from She’s Gotta Have It, is Blood gang capo Box, played by Parker, who serves as the resident villain, snatching Flick’s iPad and menacing the Bishop. Ultimately, when the truth about Da Good Bishop Enoch Rouse arises, Box can be seen as the project’s fighting angel, Michael, ready to deliver swift and fierce justice.
I chatted with the handsome Nate Parker about his role in Lee’s newest joint, hanging out with the Bloods and how he’s maintained his five-year marriage.
Parlour: It was difficult identifying the source of your character Box’s anger in the film.
Nate Parker: Box is a community leader and a drug dealer.
He’s a drug dealer and Malcolm X?
Malcolm X, at one time, was a drug dealer. The same effort that goes into being a successful drug dealer, mobilizing people into an army is a skill set that can be applied at a Fortune 500 company. Our kids have the capacity for achievement but when they don’t reach it, it’s our failure. Box is a product of his environment, his mother died when he was 13 and he was abandoned without admire. He looked up to the Deacon in the film, but he was a drunk and there was something he didn’t really trust about the Bishop [played by Clarke Peters]. He was in the church until someone dropped the ball with him and he ran into the next open arms, a gang.
In film’s end, Box is more angry because the Bishop was his last hope of something good in the world. When he found out the Bishop was tainted, Box’s reaction was violent. No one wants the crazy guy in the family around unless someone’s trying to hurt the family.