Here’s How Spike Lee and Martin Scorsese Became Friends, and 1 ‘Gruesome’ Thing They Have in Common

Spike Lee and Martin Scorsese are two of the most prolific filmmakers in Hollywood. What some movie buffs may not know is that they are friends. Here’s what Lee once revealed about how they met and a common interest they share.

Spike Lee and Martin Scorsese
Spike Lee and Martin Scorsese | Daniel Zuchnik/WireImage

Spike Lee saw his first Martin Scorsese film as a teen

In an interview with GQ, Lee revealed some films that he loves and discussed the directors who made them. The cinephile pointed out Scorsese as a filmmaker who made an impact on him as a teen. Lee told the publication, “My mother is responsible for me being a great fan of Martin Scorsese. She took me to see Mean Streets. Whatever year that was, that’s the year we went.”

For the record, Mean Streets premiered in theaters in 1973 with a rock-solid cast, including Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel, David Carradine, and Robert Carradine. The mob-centered flick boasts a whopping 95% Fresh Rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Lee went on to describe his mindset as a young movie fan. He confessed, “At that time, I didn’t want to be a filmmaker. I didn’t even know people made films. You just went to the movie theater. But that film really [made] an impact on me.”

While studying at New York University, Spike Lee met Martin Scorsese

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When speaking with GQ, Lee recalled his initial in-person introduction to Scorsese. According to Lee, the colleagues made memorable impressions on each other.

“I remember the first time I met Marty. I was at NYU. He had a screening of After Hours. And afterwards, I went up to him and I told him the story,” Lee shared. “He still remembers it. So, I knew I made an impact on him just by talking to him, telling him how much I liked the film. And we’ve been friends ever since.”

The filmmakers worked together professionally

'Clockers'
‘Clockers’ | Universal Pictures/Getty Images

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Film buffs will note that Lee and Scorsese joined forces on Clockers in 1995. Lee co-wrote the screenplay, directed, and produced the movie. Scorsese served as a producer alongside Lee and the rest of the team.

The plot revolved around drug dealers and cops on a Brooklyn, New York backdrop. The cast was a virtual Hollywood roundup that included Harvey Keitel, John Turturro, Delroy Lindo, and Mekhi Phifer, just to name a few.

Lee and Scorsese have a common interest

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Lee opened up to GQ about a common interest he shares with Scorsese. Both filmmakers have an appreciation for dark humor. “We have kind of a similar, gruesome taste,” admitted Lee. He went on to tell a story about a laugh the twosome had over a scene in one of Scorsese’s most famous films.

“He called me up one day [and said], ‘Spike, I want to show you something.’ And it was Goodfellas. And there’s a scene where they had the guy’s head in the vice. He was showing me something he was going to have to cut out. Because in the scene, his eyes popped out of his head. And it’s funny. Me and Marty are dying laughing.”

“I said, ‘They’re not going to let you do that.’ He said, ‘I know, I know. I just wanted you to see it before I have to cut it out.’” Lee continued, “We have that type of, you might say, dark humor. I said, ‘How’d you do that?’ He said, ‘Special effects Spike. Special effects.’”