Movie Love: John Ortiz Talks Bed-Stuy Connection With ‘Do The Right Thing’

John Ortiz and John Gallagher Jr. star in PEPPERMINT. Photo Credit: Tony Rivetti; Motion Picture Artwork © 2017 STX Financing, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
John Ortiz plays a detective in the Jennifer Garner headlined release Peppermint. During our interview with Ortiz (conducted by Andrew Watches Movies podcaster Andrew Martin), he talked about his love for the Spike Lee feature Do The Right Thing.

John Ortiz in “Peppermint” – Photo Credit: Tony Rivetti; Motion Picture Artwork © 2017 STX Financing, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

My favorite film is Do The Right Thing. It takes place where I grew up. I’m from Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. It was the first time I saw the neighborhood depicted in that way, which was all about life and all the different colors, and expressions and emotions that life brings to us. And what we bring to life. All set in this very hot day in the middle of the summer and where there’s a lot of undercurrents of tension that reach a boiling point. I just faced that every day of my life growing up. But to see it in such an elevated, beautiful way where there is, like I said, many different colors expressed in that way was enlightening to me and it kind of elevated me. I think (that’s) what art should always be like and film should always be like. That it’s never about one thing, but about many things. I think that something that is so specific in that story and in that time, for it to resonate in the way it did, was massively done by Spike.

My first and only viewing of Do The Right Thing was as a freshman at UCLA back in 1989. The screening took place on campus (it was on a double bill with She’s Gotta Have It). Both films obviously blew me away, and it’s a shame I haven’t revisited either flick over the past 30 years.

Is Do The Right Thing your favorite Spike Lee film? What are some of your favorite John Ortiz performances (I loved him in The Drop, which is also set in Brooklyn)? Feel free to comment below!!


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