The cost of fame sometimes challenges entertainers to weigh their moral compass, in order to ensure that their center is in a place that allows them to rest easy at night and awake to a reflection they still respect in the morning. For actress/choreographer, Rosie Perez, her personal morals were tested during her days as the character, “Tina,” the ’round the way Puerto Rican girlfriend of Spike Lee’s character, “Mookie,” in Do The Right Thing.
The year was 1989, when Rosie became the one of the breakthrough stars in the film. Two dynamic scenes helped solidify her spot – (1) her impressive dancing in the opening credits of Spike Lee’s joint and (2) the unforgettable intimate scene where “Mookie” dripped ice cubes over her bare breasts on a hot summer New York day.
Those scenes helped garner Rosie the titles of ‘bold,’ ‘beautiful,’ ‘fearless,’ ‘relatable,’ ‘talented,’ and so one. Unfortunately for Rosie, she hated the bare breasts scene. In fact, she hated it so much that she cried throughout the entire shooting of it.
Rosie Perez Tells Why She Cried During Filming
In a prior interview with New York Times, the Soul Train veteran admitted she felt violated, even though she was the one who actually agreed to shoot the nude scene. Rosie also stated that she finally spoke publicly about it, because her then 14 year old stepdaughter informed her that she’d seen her nude screenshots, from the movie, online. That’s when Rosie began to question whether, or not, she felt comfortable standing behind her work 100%…apparently she does not:
Rosie Perez- “My first experience [with doing nude scenes] was Do the Right Thing. And I had a big problem with it, mainly because I was afraid of what my family would think — that’s what was really bothering me. It wasn’t really about taking off my clothes. But I also didn’t feel good about it because the atmosphere wasn’t correct. And when Spike Lee puts ice cubes on my nipples, the reason you don’t see my head is because I’m crying. I was like, I don’t want to do this. I felt like Irene Cara in ”Fame.” It was like, Wait a minute, I feel so wimpy, this is not who I am. So that was my first experience, and it was horrible. But then I went and took my clothes off again for ”White Men Can’t Jump”! But that was because it was totally my decision, I felt totally comfortable, the director was so cool and Woody Harrelson was like, Well, whatever you want is cool with me. So there I felt empowered by it. But with ”Do the Right Thing” it was like, ‘Now I’m the object, here’s the shot.’ And the reason why I cried was not so much because I felt violated as because I was angry at myself, because I wanted to say: ”Say something! Get up!” So that’s how I felt violated. I felt like I violated myself.”
Her Brother Brought Machete To Meet With Spike?
Even though she felt “violated,” in all fairness to Spike Lee, it’s important to note that Rosie Perez previously admitted that she was not threatened, nor forced to film her nude scene in Do the Right Thing. According to Daily News, she recalled in her memoir, Handbook For An Unpredictable Life, bringing her knife-wielding brother to set to ensure Spike Lee didn’t try any funny stuff during her nude scene negotiation:
Via DN: [Rosie] Perez fought Lee over the naked scenes, and later charged him with exploiting her. She actually had her brother-in-law, a drug dealer who came to the meeting with a machete in hand, negotiate that there would be “no ass-crack, nothing close to the vagina.”
Wow…gotta luv Rosie for making sure she was protected by any means, and much respect to Spike for still keepin’ it professional in the midst of tense hurdles they faced behind the scenes at that time.