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24 Hours to Live: Spike Lee

The acclaimed director (and Knicks superfan) has a new revenge flick called Oldboy…and one final day.


Illustrated for Maxim by Andy MacGregor | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2013

How would you spend your last day on Earth?
My last day will be spent walking over the Brooklyn Bridge, on the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, and through the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn.

What’s your last meal?
A slice of original cheesecake from Junior’s.

What other basketball superfan would be sitting next to you in heaven?
Jack Nicholson. I admire him so much. He’s a great actor, he’s from New Jersey, and he knows basketball. Here’s the thing about Jack and me: We would be doing the same thing at a game whether we were courtside or in the last row.

Will you see the New York Knicks win another championship before you go?
I’m not dying till we win another! I want my son to see them win, too. There are generations of Knicks fans who haven’t lived through a championship.

Your new movie, Oldboy, is a tale of vengeance. Is there anyone you’d need to square off with before you go?
No one I can think of. Oh! Maybe a couple of NBA referees.

What movie do you regret not seeing?
I’ve seen all the movies I wanted to see.

What’s one movie you would hate to watch over and over again for the rest of eternity?
She’s Gotta Have It. That was my first film, and even today I cannot watch it all the way through. I know it was very successful, and it put me on the map, but at the same  time, in it I see myself as a very beginning filmmaker. Primitive, almost.

If you could come back and spy on someone who’s still alive, who would it be?
Can’t say I would, but I do wish my mother could have lived to see how she shaped and formed me. She passed before I made any of my films. My mother would drag me to movies when I was four years old, not because she wanted me to be a filmmaker but because she loved films. My father was a jazz musician—he hated movies—so I was her date.

What is your proudest accomplishment?
Our children. My wife, Tonya, and I have some great kids who turned into two really great young adults, and most of that credit has to go to her.

What song is playing at your funeral?
I’m not sure, but it has to be a song that makes people get up and dance, not cry.

During your lifetime, what did you spend the most money on?
Knicks tickets! That’s my one vice. I’ve never smoked a joint or done any drugs, but I got a basketball jones.

Write your epitaph.
Fight the power.

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