“I haven't written one word during this whole pandemic,” the Da 5 Bloods director admits to EW.

By Marcus Jones
June 19, 2020 at 10:30 AM EDT
Spike Lee, Sam Mendes, Jim Jarmusch
Credit: Amy Sussman/Getty Images; Borja B. Hojas/WireImage; Taylor Hill/FilmMagic

Even though director Spike Lee has kept busy during quarantine, promoting his new Netflix film Da 5 Bloods and making two short films, his next screenplay is far from finished—and he’s not alone.

“I haven't written one word during this whole pandemic,” the filmmaker admits during a Zoom chat with EW. “I had a Zoom class with [Paterson writer/director] Jim Jarmusch. He said he hasn't written a word. I had a Zoom class, my students with [1917 writer/director] Sam Mendes, he hasn't written a word. So there's three — me, Sam, and Jim — we have not written one single word. We have nothing else to do. We're three going on four months.”

While Lee jokingly brags that he is the only one who is the artistic director of the film school he teaches at (NYU), his fellow Da 5 Bloods screenwriters Kevin Willmott and Danny Bilson, who are professors at University of Kansas and University of Southern California respectively, do not share his writer's block.

Kevin Willmott and Danny Bilson
Credit: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images; Angela Weiss/Getty Images

“I've had to write, man,” says Willmott, who co-wrote Chi-Raq and BlacKkKlansman with Lee, and is currently writing a biopic on Black tennis icon Arthur Ashe. “It's been a struggle though,” he concedes, “it's such an emotional, weird place for everybody right now that it's just an added difficulty on top of everything. And then, with the murder of George Floyd, [there’s] just one more level of emotional baggage that goes along with it.”

While Bilson shared Lee’s sentiment through most of his time sheltering in place, it was actually watching Da 5 Bloods on Netflix for the first time that got him writing again. “When I saw the film, I felt some kind of completion of some kind. And I actually kicked ass yesterday and got three pages done.”

During the development of their script that eventually became Da 5 Bloods, Bilson lost his writing partner Paul De Meo. Addressing Lee during the Zoom chat, Bilson shares how the film helped him cope with the loss: “Those scenes where Delroy [Lindo] is talking into the lens, and he says, ‘Paul can't die. Paul is not going to die,’ that kind of hits me in the gut in a different way, you know, because my brother is gone. So I love this movie. I love this movie.”

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