Trivia / Do the Right Thing


  • AFI's 100 Years... Series:
  • Casting Gag: Buggin' Out, who says Sal is racist for not putting any black people on his Italian-American exclusive "Wall of Fame" is played by Giancarlo Esposito, who is himself half-black, half-Italian American.
  • Doing It for the Art: Spike Lee funded the entire film himself by maxing out his credit cards, surely as a way to maintain creative control over a film with such a personal, controversial subject.
  • Playing Against Type:
    • John Turturro (an Italian-American), actually playing... an Italian!note 
    • Who knew Gus could be such a loudmouth?
  • Real-Life Relative:
    • Mookie's sister Jade is played by Spike Lee's real-life sister Joie.
    • Rick Aiello, who played Officer Long, is the real life son of Danny Aiello, who played Sal in the film.
    • Ossie Davis and wife Ruby Dee, as Da Mayor and Mother Sister.
  • Throw It In!:
    • The key scene when Danny Aiello and John Turturro talk alone in the restaurant booth was partly improvised. The scripted scene ended as the character Smiley approached the window. Everything after that until the end of the scene was completely ad-libbed.
    • All of the scenes of the corner men were improvised.
  • Unintentional Period Piece: Radio Raheem seems to do nothing but walk around carrying a boombox blaring Public Enemy's "Fight the Power", and there are references to several contemporary well-publicized hate crimes, making it a perfect period piece of its late '80s release date (it was released in 1989).
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Spike Lee's first choice for Sal was Robert De Niro, who turned it down because he felt the role was too similar to ones he had played in the past. Joe Pesci was also considered.
    • Matt Dillon was Lee's first choice for Pino.
    • James Earl Jones was offered to play the role as Da Mayor, but turned it down in favour of The Best Of The Best.
    • The character Smiley was not originally in the script, but Lee added him after when his actor, Roger Guenveur Smith requested a role in his film.
    • Laurence Fishburne was offered but turned down the role of Love Daddy. He was also considered for Radio Raheem.
    • Wesley Snipes turned down a role in the film in order to star in Major League.
    • In the original scripted ending, Sal and Mookie reconcile. Sal, although upset, tells Mookie that he understands that Mookie had to do the right thing. Spike Lee changed the ending during filming and has never explained why he did, though it does make the ending more morally ambiguous.


  • Barack Obama and his future first lady Michelle saw this film on their first date.