Playing a Donald Trump supporter in Spike Lee’s new film Da 5 Bloods – coming to Netflix 12 June – was a tough challenge for its star Delroy Lindo, as he says he would never dream of voting for the current President of the United States.
However, by diving into his character Paul’s backstory, and understanding the veteran’s sense of “betrayal” and “disenfranchisement” with America, Lindo found a way in.
Da 5 Bloods tells the story of four Black Vietnam War veterans who return to the country decades after the conflict ended to find the body of their friend who died in combat. They’re also hunting for a treasure trove they left behind and fulfil the promise made to their fallen comrade “Stormin’” Norman (played in flashbacks by Black Panther’s Chadwick Boseman).
A key line in the film continually reminds you “the war never ends” – for the country and its people left ravaged by “the American War” – but also for the GIs who returned to their homeland and were met by ambivalence and often protests.
Each of the surviving “Bloods” has been affected by the war, but it’s Delroy Lindo’s character Paul who – on the surface – seems the most changed: he’s now a MAGA hat-wearing Trump supporter. Talking to Yahoo about the role, The Good Fight star Lindo admits he had trouble getting into that mindset initially, but was able to find a way in through the script.
“When I viewed Paul in terms of the betrayal and loss that he has experienced,” explains Lindo, whose Oscar-worthy performance has earned received rave reviews.
“I came to the conclusion that as a result of – not just the personal betrayals in his personal life – but the huge betrayal suffered at the hands of the country, when [Paul] came back from Vietnam, and [he] was somebody who volunteered three tours, [he] volunteered, coming back and being vilified, and suffering that betrayal... suffering the betrayal of the various losses in [his] personal life... it results in, cumulatively, a disconnectiveness, and a disconnection, and the disenfranchisement, ultimately that I could empathise with, and understand – quote, unquote – why Paul cast his vote for that individual.”
“Even though that is that not something that I would ever do myself,” he quickly adds.
“He had a hard time,” adds director Spike Lee.
“Because Agent Orange [Lee’s nickname for President Donald Trump] is everything [Delroy Lindo] is not.”
“But great actors understand that sometimes you have to play a character that’s not you. That’s the job of an actor. Your job is the serve the material. So it was a hurdle for my brother Delroy, but he got over that.”
Just 8% of Black voters voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 US Election.
Da 5 Bloods releases globally on Netflix on 12 June. Watch a clip below.