- SPIKE LEE, SUMMER OF SAM (1999), 25th HOUR (2002) & INSIDE MAN (2006)
The Brooklyn-bred filmmaker born Shelton Lee has earned a reputation for helping build the careers of Black actors like Samuel L. Jackson, Halle Berry and Denzel Washington in projects that have exposed how race and class operate in American life. Still, Lee’s work has not been limited to Black issues. Over the years Hollywood heavyweights—including Edward Norton, Jodie Foster, Clive Owen, John Leguizamo and Adrien Brody—have signed on to star in Lee’s mainstream projects, including 25th Hour (2002), Summer of Sam (1999) and Inside Man (2006). The latter raked in a whopping $184 million at box offices worldwide.