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‘For a Man of His Stature to Say I’m Sorry Is Huge’: Rosie Perez Says She’s Still Friends with Spike Lee Despite Voicing Her Discomfort with Nude Scene In ‘Do the Right Thing’

Actress Rosie Perez says that she and filmmaker Spike Lee have made amends following the discomfort she claims she experienced while filming a nude scene in the 1989 movie “Do the Right Thing.”

In it, she played Tina, the girlfriend of Lee’s character Mookie and the mother of his son Hector. During a roundtable discussion with The New York Times back in 2000, Perez said that she felt violated during her spicy scene in the iconic film.

Rosie Perez Spike Lee
Spike Lee (left) and Rosie Perez (right) together in New York City in 2019. (Photo: @rosieperezbrooklyn/Instagram)

“I had a big problem with it, mainly because I was afraid of what my family would think,” she said. “That’s what was really bothering me. It wasn’t really about taking off my clothes. But I also didn’t feel good about it because the atmosphere wasn’t correct. And when Spike Lee puts ice cubes on my nipples, the reason you don’t see my head is because I’m crying. I was like, ‘I don’t want to do this.’ I felt like Irene Cara in ‘Fame.’”

Perez went on to do another film, 1992’s “White Men Can’t Jump,” which featured another nude scene. She said she felt more comfortable naked in the movie because she had more control of the scene.

“I felt totally comfortable, the director was so cool and Woody Harrelson was like, ‘Well, whatever you want is cool with me.’ So there I felt empowered by it. But with ‘Do the Right Thing’ it was like, ‘Now I’m the object, here’s the shot,'” she explained. “And the reason why I cried was not so much because I felt violated as because I was angry at myself, because I wanted to say, ‘Say something! Get up!’ So that’s how I felt violated. I felt like I violated myself.”

In Variety’s recent Power of Women issue, Perez alleges that people were ready to cancel Lee following the discussion, and some wanted to cancel her as well just for speaking out.

The 58-year-old actress also noted that she and Lee discussed her feelings years ago. She said they embraced and made up, adding that the two are still friends today.

“In our cancel culture, some people need to be canceled. And when I was telling the story, people were ready to cancel Spike Lee and cancel me for saying something,” she recalled.

“And I was like, ‘You know what? This is getting out of hand. Here’s the thing. It happened. We discussed it, we made up, we hugged it out, and we’re still friends to this day,” she exclaimed.

“And sometimes people need a chance to say, ‘I’m sorry.’ For a man of his stature to say ‘I’m sorry’ is huge. But that’s why I don’t like to talk about it — because people get too crazy.”

Perez also told the outlet how she met the director in Los Angeles and later auditioned for “Do the Right Thing.” She claims Lee saw her dancing at a nightclub with her friends and gave her his business card, but she didn’t know who he was, so she got rid of it.

“I threw the card away,” she said. “My girlfriend Marian went back and got it. She always joked, ‘You owe your entire career to me.’ You know, I did audition for ‘Do the Right Thing.’ People think that Spike just discovered me and gave me the role. No, he made me work for it.”

Perez also opened up about the racism she’s experienced within the industry over the years. While working with actor Johnny Depp on an episode of the series, “21 Jump Street,” she said the actor gave her the confidence to question her agent at the time, who told her she could get Perez more work if altered her image.

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