How Spike Lee Spends His Sundays
In the 33 years since the filmmaker Spike Lee released “She’s Gotta Have It,” about a Brooklyn artist and her romantic entanglements, he has written, directed and produced projects nonstop, including the movie “BlacKkKlansman,” which won an Academy Award for best adapted screenplay this year.
Last week, Mr. Lee’s television series, “She’s Gotta Have It,” which is based on his breakout film, started its second season on Netflix. With so many projects underway, it’s no wonder Mr. Lee, 62, spends most Sundays working. When he calls it a wrap, he heads to Manhattan’s Upper East Side, where he lives with his wife, Tonya Lewis Lee, an executive producer on his television series, his daughter, Satchel, 23, his son, Jackson, 21, and their Yorkshire terrier, Ginger.
WAKE UP I normally wake up at 6 or 7. I use my BlackBerry as my alarm. I don’t know why people look at me crazy. Yes, I have a BlackBerry. I don’t like typing on the iPhone. I wake up, brush my teeth, take a shower, put my clothes on, and I go to work. It’s not like for me Sunday is the Sabbath. I got work to do. For me, it’s not really work. I love what I’m doing.
OLDGIRL But I got other things. I got a life — a beautiful wife and two lovely children. And a dog. Dog’s name is Ginger. She’s getting old. She can’t walk up the steps no more, she has to be carried. Her hearing’s going, too. We think we have two years left. The other day, I snuck up behind her and she didn’t hear me. That never happened before.
LIL JOINTS I have two offices, so either I go to my N.Y.U. office, where I’m a tenured professor of film — N.Y.U. Graduate Film school — or the world headquarters of 40 Acres & a Mule, in the heart of Fort Greene, the People’s Republic of Brooklyn, New York. It used to be a garage. I bought it when the getting was good.
DO THE RIGHT THING I get a coffee, egg whites and a bowl of grits. I’m trying to cut out bread. Oh, I have one slice of buttered, whole-wheat bread with grape jelly. I go to a place across the street. It’s called Academy. Coffee, cream and three natural brown sugars.
No more sugar for me. In my generation, you lived for Saturdays because the cartoons. Advertisers knew it, and those commercials turned us into sugar crackheads. Frosted Flakes — do you know how much sugar’s in that? We have a scene in “Crooklyn.” It’s semi-autobiographical, so Delroy Lindo, who plays my father, pours two pounds of sugar in the Kool-Aid.
AND YA DON’T STOP There’s various projects that come in between the big stuff. I’ve done a short film for the Killers, that song “Land of the Free.” I’m doing something for Budweiser. I’m going in and out of the editing room. I don’t stand behind my editor’s back. Barry Brown’s been my full-time editor since ’88. We don’t have to have big discussions. “Do this.” Boom, boom, boom, boom. “All right. I’ll tell you when I’m ready.”
SUCKER FREE CITY I go to the bodega. I buy all the papers — not The Post, but The New York Times and The Daily News. That was my chore growing up. I had to get the Sunday paper. Back then you had to do what your parents told you to do. There was no negotiation and discussion. You don’t do it, you get hit. Now? We had to bribe. “You’re not taking out the garbage? Don’t ask me to go to a Knick game.” “O.K., I’m taking out the garbage.”
BAMBOOZLED I’ve lived in Manhattan over 20 years. I bought the house from Jasper Johns. He didn’t leave a drop of paint, a paintbrush, nothing. There was a Rauschenberg door. Our broker said if you buy the house, you get to keep the door. We bought the house. There was no door. He took the hinges, too.
ALL THE INVISIBLE CHILDREN What’s special about Sundays is that’s really the only time the whole family is together. We all sit down to eat at 7. Tonya cooks. We talk — what’s happening with everybody, what’s happening in the world. Then dinner’s over, we got to clean up, put dishes in the dishwasher. Satchel and Jackson, they go out again. Most times Tonya and I are in bed before they come back home. I don’t know where they are; I don’t want to know.
HE GOT GAME Tonya and I go watch a movie. We also watch news. Tonya watches a lot of episodic stuff. Everything. I can’t keep up with what she watches. I watch a lot of stuff. I’ll see movies. “On the Waterfront” — that’s my guy, Budd Schulberg. In June, I’m watching the N.B.A. playoffs. Those games go on late.
THE ANSWER 10 o’clock, I’m going to bed. I don’t need preparation to go to bed. Just go to bed. Turn the lights out, go to bed. My head hits the pillow, I’m out.