The incredible breadth of actor and filmmaker Bill Duke’s career has been on display recently, with a spotlight on projects new and old.
Duke plays a pivotal supporting role in the new Steven Soderbergh film “No Sudden Move” on HBO Max. His 1984 film “The Killing Floor,” about a unionization effort among slaughterhouse workers in World War I-era Chicago, was celebrated at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. And his 1992 film “Deep Cover,” starring Laurence Fishburne, Jeff Goldblum and Clarence Williams III, has just been released on home video as part of the Criterion Collection. Fishburne plays a cop recruited to go undercover among LA’s drug dealers, rising in the ranks alongside a shady lawyer played by Goldblum.
Duke first came to audiences’ attention as an actor, with roles in films such as “Car Wash” and “American Gigolo.” In the early ’80s, he moved into directing, first working in episodic television on series such as “Dallas” and “Hill Street Blues.” At the same time, he has continued to act, appearing in films such as “Commando,” “Predator,” and Soderbergh’s “The Limey.”
Q: What inspired you to make that initial transition into directing?
Bill Duke: I started out as a writer and director of theater in New York, and I wrote my own plays and directed some of them. I always was interested in film, but I was intimidated by the equipment, the size of the crews, the cameras, everything. So I just stuck to directing theater. I got a show called “Palmerstown,…