How the Clint Eastwood-Spike Lee Feud Was Settled at a Basketball Game

by Samantha Whidden

A little over a month after sparking a very public feud with Clint Eastwood about omitting black soldiers in his films “Flags of Our Fathers” and “Letters from Iwo Jima,” Spike Lee revealed that he put everything to rest while at a basketball game with Steven Spielberg. 

According to The New Yorker, Clint Eastwood and Spike Lee had a heated argument while at the Cannes Film Festival. The argument was over the lack of black soldiers in the films. Eastwood told reporters at the time that he left the black soldiers out of the films because none of them had actually raised the flag at Iwo Jima.

“The story is Flags of Our Fathers, the famous flag-raising picture, and they didn’t do that. If I go ahead and put an African-American actor in there, people’d go: ‘This guy’s lost his mind.’ I mean, it’s not accurate,” Eastwood explained. As he spoke about Lee, Clint Eastwood declared, “A guy like that should shut his face.”

Meanwhile, Lee declared that Clint Eastwood sounded like an angry old man. He then stated, “Clint Eastwood made two films about Iwo Jima that ran for more than four hours total, and there was not one Negro actor on the screen. If you reporters had any balls you’d ask him why. There’s no way I know why he did that … But I know it was pointed out to him and that he could have changed it. It’s not like he didn’t know.

Here is How Spike Lee Ended the Feud With Clint Eastwood

Lee also told the New Yorker that black soldiers have been dismissed for decades. “This is the same sh-t they were doing back in the forties, fifties, and sixties. Really, until Jim Brown was in the ‘The Dirty Dozen,’ in 1967. ‘Home of the Brave’ was a great film with a great African-American character in it. But if you look at the history of World War Two films we’re invisible. We’re omitted.”

However, like how the feud started, Spike Lee stated it ended quickly. The filmmaker recalled that while at a Los Angeles Lakers basketball, he approached Steven Spielberg. He then told him that the feud between him and Clint Eastwood had ended. “I said, ‘Steven, it’s over with Clint Eastwood.’ Steven laughed and said, “I’ll call Clint and tell him in the morning.’ I said, ‘It’s over.’ He said, ‘Good.’”

However, those who know about the feud seem to doubt those were the words Spike Lee said about Clint Eastwood. Despite the doubt, Lee declared the feud is over and done with. 

Clint Eastwood reportedly declined to comment on the feud or speak about Spike Lee.