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Spike Lee and Giancarlo Esposito Reunite for Nationwide Fiat Marketing campaign

Spike Lee and Giancarlo Esposito Reunite for Nationwide Fiat Marketing campaign

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It’s a Saturday afternoon in February and Spike Lee and Giancarlo Esposito are sitting side-by-side in a golf cart on a studio lot in Los Angeles. The 2, buddies for 40 years, have labored collectively many occasions through the years on such Lee joints as 1988’s Faculty Daze, 1989’s Do the Proper Factor, 1990’s Mo’ Higher Blues and 1992’s Malcolm X. They’re again collectively and collaborating as soon as once more, this time for Fiat on behalf of the Italian automaker’s model new, all-electric Fiat 500e.

Lee directs and stars within the “Italy in America” spot reverse his Emmy-nominated buddy in what marks their first nationwide promoting marketing campaign collectively. Because the story goes, Esposito helps Lee discover his interior Italian as they uncover how their city commute turns into extra “dolce” within the 2024 Fiat 500e. “The all-electric Fiat 500e captures the essence of the Italian way of life. This new marketing campaign brings collectively an iconic duo of numerous heritage, legendary Brooklyn director Spike Lee and actor Giancarlo Esposito, who shares the virtues of his Italian ancestry with Spike to indicate him that La Dolce Vita will be discovered even far past Italy’s borders,” defined Olivier Francois, international chief advertising officer at Stellantis.

The marketing campaign, launched final week and shot by Oscar-nominated cinematographer Matthew Libatique, will embrace greater than a dozen inventive parts that includes the duo throughout Fiat’s social channels, working via spring and summer time and increasing into fall. It’s no shock to seek out out that the marketing campaign is essentially unscripted, permitting Lee and Esposito to effortlessly play off each other like longtime buddies can. That’s precisely what they do over the course of a 20-minute Zoom interview with The Hollywood Reporter from the entrance seat of that golf cart. Lee and Esposito end one another’s sentences, crack one another up and lob compliments backwards and forwards whereas sharing the story behind the marketing campaign, dishing on their new tasks — Excessive and Low with Denzel Washington for Lee and Francis Ford Coppola‘s Megalopolis for Esposito — and getting severe about the specter of synthetic intelligence going through the world.

Spike Lee and Giancarlo Esposito star in Fiat’s new marketing campaign.

Courtesy of FIAT

Seeing the 2 of you collectively on a Saturday afternoon may be very cool …

Lee: We obtained historical past. We obtained historical past. Good historical past.

How does it really feel to be reunited?

Lee: I really feel nice, what about you?

Esposito: I really feel nice, like 1,000,000 bucks.

Lee: We’ve seen one another through the years, from time to time, however time goes quick. On June 30, it is going to be the thirty fifth anniversary of Do the Proper Factor. Bugging out!

Esposito: Bugging out!

Who got here up with the concept for this collaboration?

Esposito: Nicely, Spike is the person. Spike is the coach. I at all times invite good vitality, and after we run into one another, it looks like not a day has passed by since we’ve seen one another final. That’s the reality.

Lee: That’s the reality, Ruth.

Esposito: It actually, actually is. When this was talked about to me due to my Italian heritage, my connection to Italy and my love for vehicles, they talked about that Spike Lee was going to direct.

Lee: It is a pure match. While you’re shut, particularly on this trade, there is perhaps Spike the love, however there are schedules and delays that stop working collectively once more. However we’ve a bond. It’s been introduced that I’m going to do my new movie with [Denzel Washington], the fifth one after Mo’ Higher Blues, Malcolm X, He Received Sport, Inside Man. Inside Man was 16 years in the past, however for Denzel and I, it was like yesterday. That’s the identical factor right here with my brother. That inventive bond, that human bond, even while you’re not working collectively otherwise you haven’t seen one another in years, while you do, it’s an enormous hug such as you noticed them final evening.

What’s the story of the industrial?

Esposito: It’s a narrative about Fiat, the 500e electrical automotive that’s redesigned to be actually slick and delightful.

Lee: I noticed it for the primary time in footage, however to see it in actual life, it’s a…[gives a thumbs up].

Esposito: It’s a trick, trick automobile. It’s actually stunning. It’s a small, good metropolis automotive, and it represents a cultural heritage of Italy, and the colourful nature of the Italian individuals. Very, very passionate individuals who love meals, wine, sunshine, music and dance. It’s a cultural illustration of all that’s Italy.

Lee: In the event that they don’t know, inform them your connection to Italy…

Esposito: I’m half Italian. My individuals are from Naples, Italy. I used to be raised in Rome. My mother’s an opera singer. My father labored at Teatro alla Scala, the opera home in Milan.

Lee: Who’s Italian and who’s African?

Esposito: My father’s Italian and my mom is African-American Black.

Lee: The place’d they meet?

Esposito: They met at Teatro di San Carlo in Napoli, it’s a well-known and actually small opera home. I lately went again there, in July, to see the place they meet and I had tears in my eyes. I additionally went to Naples the place I actually obtained a way of my heritage.

Lee: Have been you conceived in Naples the very first second that they met?

Esposito: No, quickly after. An excessive amount of info. Mommy and Papa, I really like you. So, I’ve a really robust connection to Italy and I like it. This [commercial] was a no brainer for me to characterize my Italian people who find themselves simply completely unimaginable human beings and really nice with every little thing from vehicles to leather-based purses to music. To me, once more, they characterize the very best elements of me.

Spike Lee and Giancarlo Esposito star in Fiat’s new marketing campaign.

Courtesy of FIAT

They know how you can dwell over there. Spike, I do know you grew up in a neighborhood with quite a lot of Italians as effectively. Have you ever spent quite a lot of time in Italy?

Lee: Oh sure. I spent quite a lot of time in Italy, however the Lees, we have been the primary Black household to maneuver right into a neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York known as Cobble Hill. It was largely Italian People, proper by the dock. The dock staff purchased houses in Cobble Hill, so we have been the primary. A variety of the stuff you see within the movie Do the Proper Factor, and later in Summer season of Sam, got here from my experiences rising up being the one Black household in an Italian American neighborhood in Brooklyn.

Again to the FIAT: Would you ever personal an electrical automobile or battery electrical automobile or do you personal one now?

Esposito: I don’t personal one now, however I’d personal an electrical automobile. It’s good for the planet, it’s good for our surroundings. I lastly obtained into electrical bicycles and I notice how a lot smoother, quieter and extra environment friendly they’re. I’d personal an electrical automobile in a heartbeat.

Lee: Me too.

Esposito: Being in New York, once more, this Fiat is a metropolis automotive that may match into small areas. It’s sensible, it’s environment friendly, and it saves our surroundings. I’m all for it, and this Fiat 500 is a factor of magnificence.

Spike, we’ve seen you star on digicam in some iconic commercials through the years. Except for spending time with Giancarlo, how does any individual get you to say sure to showing on digicam in a industrial today?

Lee: If I just like the product, if I imagine within the product, the story. Additionally, if I’m out there, too. That’s an enormous factor, availability. A variety of these firms have one thing coming down the pike and they should get these items shot. However that is an expertise the place every little thing lined up. Then to be united with my brother proper right here, G-money, huge brother almighty. I’m bugging out. I imply, it’s nice. When you may work with individuals you like, it’s a win.

Esposito: I’m going so as to add one thing to that as a result of though you didn’t ask me, I’m going to inform you why I’m right here…

I used to be going to ask you a similar as a result of, initially, seeing you in a single place looks like a present with all you might have happening today. You’re very in demand…

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Lee: In demand! In demand!

Esposito: Actually, I really feel blessed to be in demand and I really feel blessed to have the ability to do what I do day-after-day of my life, being on digicam and creating with nice individuals. I’m right here not solely to have the ability to catch up, however I wish to work with nice individuals. My hit record of administrators are Spike Lee…

Lee: I noticed you in Atlanta.

Esposito: Oh yeah, engaged on Francis Ford Coppola’s Megalopolis. Popping out quickly.

Lee: I noticed 90 minutes.

Esposito: You probably did! I did ADR the opposite day. He says hiya. It’s about integrity. It’s nice while you get an opportunity to work with individuals who have integrity, individuals who aren’t simply doing it for the cash or simply as a result of they’re requested to help a challenge that they will’t get behind. They’re doing it to create and convey different creators with them. For me, I wish to work with the very best however I additionally wish to have enjoyable whereas I’m doing it and have the ability to study one thing within the course of.

Lee: I’m going to leap on and piggyback what my brother stated. I’m a tenured professor of movie at NYU graduate movie college. I’ve been there 30 years. Ang Lee and Ernest Dickerson have been my classmates. NYU graduate movie college is three years and I inform my college students on the primary day of sophistication that if you can also make a residing doing what you like, you’re blessed. The vast majority of the inhabitants on God’s earth go to their grave working a job they hate. We’re blessed. We don’t take this shit with no consideration. Excuse my profanity, however I don’t take it with no consideration as a result of it didn’t should be me. I imply, one step left, one step, proper. You’re off the cliff.

Spike, you talked about reuniting with Denzel in your subsequent movie, Excessive and Low. How did that come collectively?

Lee: When the primary script was written, I used to be not part of the challenge. However I’ve executed a rewrite although. Denzel was part of the challenge earlier than me. Denzel was part of Malcolm X earlier than me too. We’ve an ideal historical past. I do know what works for him and what he doesn’t like. [Laughs] If Mr. Denzel Washington doesn’t like one thing, he’ll let you recognize. Below no unsure phrases, he’ll say, ‘That ain’t working.’  

Giancarlo, how was Megalopolis?

Esposito: Actually an unimaginable expertise. One of many highlights of my profession. I labored with Francis again on The Cotton Membership. Working with him on Megalopolis all these years later simply confirmed his imaginative and prescient for the world. It’s a really, very particular movie. I discover him to be a genius. I did some ADR the opposite day.

Lee: I’ve seen greater than him. We have been capturing on the identical stage in Atlanta the place I used to be doing Capital One spots with [Samuel L. Jackson and Charles Barkley], they usually informed me that they have been capturing close by so I ran over to see them. Francis took over a whole lodge. I had a bunch of posters that I requested him to signal, and he did. Then he stated, ‘Spike, I’ll present you 10 minutes.’ It was nice, then after 10 minutes, he stated, ‘Let’s see 10 extra.’ He ended up exhibiting me 90 minutes — wonderful.

Esposito: A particular human being at a particular time in his life.

Final query: You talked about turning left or turning proper and teetering off a cliff, that description may apply to the place the trade is correct now. There are quite a lot of challenges going through the trade, together with AI What’s your tackle the risk that AI poses to the movie trade?

Lee: If I may rephrase that query: The hazard that AI may do to cinemas is nothing in comparison with what it may do to the world. It’s larger than cinema. It’s larger than music. I obtained to present it to my brother, Steven Spielberg, who peeped this a few years in the past when his movie A.I. Synthetic Intelligence got here out. I didn’t even know what that was till that film got here out. We’re residing in very harmful occasions. It’s larger than cinema.

Esposito: You may’t substitute what’s actual. You may’t substitute the soulfulness of a human being, the soul. You may’t substitute humanity. Machines can attempt however I’m sorry…

Lee: It’s not the identical.

Esposito: We’re going to should undergo some studying to grasp how you can use it correctly in the correct means. It’s a testomony to these, like Steven Spielberg, who foresaw this occurring.

Lee: He had a crystal ball on that. What’s up, Steven? you probably did your factor.

Interview edited for size and readability.

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