10 Things You May Not Have Known about Do the Right Thing

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This film was inspired by an incident in New York City, where black youths were chased out of a pizzeria by white youths in Howard Beach.

According to former President Barack Obama, he and First Lady Michelle Obama saw the movie on their first date.


Director of Photography Ernest R. Dickerson determined they’d have to shoot on an East-West street in Manhattan, so that the light would be constant on both sides of the street.


James Earl Jones was originally offered the role of “Da Mayor”, but turned it down in order to make Best of the Best (1989).


“Fight the Power” was written for Do the Right Thing, at Spike Lee’s request. Spike Lee wanted a “vicious rap record” with allusions to black culture to be the movie’s anthem, as well as the leitmotif for Radio Raheem, the character forever toting a boombox. “I wanted it to be defiant,” Lee explained. “I wanted it to be angry, I wanted it to be very rhythmic. I thought right away of Public Enemy.” Lee also directed the official music video for “Fight the Power.”


The crew burned Sterno cans next to the camera to create the illusion of heat waves.


Spike Lee’s father, Bill Lee, wrote the score.

Spike Lee discovered Rosie Perez dancing at a party.


Apparently Frank Sinatra didn’t like when Mookie says “Fuck Frank Sinatra.” (or his headshot burn on the wall as Sal’s pizzeria goes up in flames) When Lee tried to get the rights to three Sinatra songs for Jungle Fever two years later, he wouldn’t speak to him. Sinatra ultimately granted the song rights after Lee pleaded his case to the singer’s daughter.

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