September 27, 2008

Actor Happily Enlisted in Spike Lee’s Army

By Susan King Los Angeles Times

Actor Derek Luke charges with ultra-mock seriousness that making Spike Lee's World War II drama, "Miracle at St. Anna," set for release today, was like being in the real military.

"You never get a chance to go back to your trailer," said Luke, who knows he'll come up dry in this fishing trip for sympathy. Luke, who plays the key role of 2nd Staff Sgt. Aubrey Stamps in the movie, has nothing but admiration when he talks about Lee.

"He shoots three or four or five cameras at the same time. He makes sure he gets every actor's reaction."

"Miracle at St. Anna," adapted by James McBride from his novel, revolves around four Buffalo Soldiers of the all-black 92nd Infantry Division who find themselves trapped behind enemy lines in a small Tuscan village after one of the men risks his life to save a young Italian boy.

Although he worked long days and weeks in Italy on the film, Luke ("Antwone Fisher") said it was a huge honor to be directed by Lee, especially because he got his big break as an actor in "Fisher," which was directed by Denzel Washington, thereby linking him to Lee in a six-degrees-of-separation sort of way.

"Denzel has made more movies with Spike than anybody he's worked with. Denzel and Spike are like Bonnie and Clyde."

Lee, he said, "seems like a guy who likes rehearsal. But once you get the rhythm for the rehearsal and a rhythm for the word, then he allows you to improv if, in fact, it fits.

"If it doesn't fit, you'll hear it quickly."

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