There is something sort of surreal about this concept, especially as presented by Tyson and Lee at the TCA press tour. At the same time, there’s a sort of strange brilliance to the partnership — a brilliance tempered by awkward aggression.
“Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth” began as a Las Vegas show, written by Tyson’s wife Kiki. Then, a friend of Lee’s caught the act and passed on the provocative concept to the award-winning filmmaker. The rock band accompaniment was cut (against Tyson’s wishes) and the play made it to Broadway.
For the HBO special, Lee filmed with 11 cameras over the course of two nights. The show looks like Tyson doing improv, except that the whole thing is scripted and rehearsed. It’s funny too in a tragic way. The former boxer doesn’t shy away from the darker parts of his past, but Tyson’s strange outlook on the world keeps everything moving.
While the show looks charming, the presenters brought more of the aggression when talking about it. That shouldn’t have been much of a surprise — Spike Lee and Mike Tyson both built hugely successful careers on different forms of aggression. Whether that aggression translates into a good film remains to be seen.
“Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth” will air on HBO later this year.
Some of the more memorable quotes:
- “It has such an affinity with boxing, because it’s the live stage there … I felt just as if I was in a live fight.” – Mike Tyson on theater
- “What is reckless on the stage is splendor in the ring.” – Tyson
- “Mike Tyson is the most honest human being I’ve ever met in my life.” – Spike Lee
- “He’s out there on the stage naked.” – Lee (emotionally)
- “When a Broadway play is over, poof! It’s gone.” – Lee
- “In no way am I Charles Manson but I will never be Mother Theresa either. Don’t get too close and be careful. I’ll bite you — as you know.” – Tyson
- “Will you admit you’re not the world’s best driver?” – Lee, recounting Tyson almost running him down in the ’80s — “Well, I didn’t have my license then. But I had a great car.” – Tyson
- “It’s all storytelling.” – Lee on his different film genres
- “I don’t have to go to the hospital after I perform.” – Tyson, on the differences between acting and fighting
- “I wanted to kill everyone in the room … With my performance, of course.” – Tyson