When announced that the legend himself, Spike Lee, would remake one of his own cult classics into a mini-series we knew at that moment there would be a shift in cultural storytelling. With Lee’s signature style and reverence for the black experience, this 1986 original will now become an art piece that transcends generations. She’s Gotta Have it is a series that explores sexuality, sisterhood and the unforgiving pressures that society place on women. It is through Nola Darling, who’s juggling fourth relationships, that we are introduced to the character, Greer Childs. In the 1986 version, one could describe Greer Childs as a narcissistic male chauvinist, however, in the 2017 adaptation, we get to meet a new complex character with similar values and new struggles.
We had the opportunity to speak with actor Cleo Anthony, who plays Greer Childs in the Netflix Series of She Gotta Have It, to help us understand the complexities of the man who has a fourth of Nola Darling’s heart.
What made you want to audition for the role of Greer Childs?
It’s Spike Lee! He creates legendary characters, Greer Childs is one of them. The movie came out over 30 years ago. That’s before many of us were born and long before some of us were old enough to even see the movie and yet, just about all of us know of Nola Darling and her three lovers. To be associated with such a legacy is an actors dream.
Spike Lee is a film legend of our time, how was it working with him?
It’s acting 101 every day, every take. It’s film school. And you’re being instructed by the best. You simply can’t come out of it unchanged. There are very few directors that I’d just kill to work with. Now that list is one name shorter. I’m very lucky.
Did you feel any pressures knowing that you are taking on a role in a remake of a pop culture classic?
Not personally. I knew the pressure was on Spike and I knew I didn’t want to be the one to let him down. So my pressure came from keeping the big guy happy. But I also knew I wanted to make Greer my own and not simply mimic what was done before. I knew he had to have that classic arrogance and narcissism but I also want him to be likable. I needed you to feel some kind of way about Greer – love him, hate him, or love to hate him. So I put the pressure was on myself to find that balance.
Does your character’s identity differ or similar to who you are outside of acting? if so in what ways?
Well, for a character to work you have to find yourself inside of him, somehow, some way. So with Greer, I took Cleo and turned him up to 20! Everyone has a level of vanity, insecurity, ego, and we all have our opinions, some stronger than others. I located mine and ramped up the juice! So yeah you can find some Cleo in Greer but I think Greer works on a broader scale because you can find some Greer in most of yourselves.