Da 5 Bloods stars admit Thailand shoot was gruelling, paying tribute to 'extraordinary' local crew (exclusive)

Tom Butler
·Senior Editor
·3-min read

Da 5 Bloods star Delroy Lindo has praised the Thai film crew Spike Lee used on his new film, praising them as the real heroes of the film.

Releasing on Netflix today, Da 5 Bloods tells the story of four Black US army veterans who return to Vietnam to find the body of their friend who died in the war. The film shot on location in Vietnam and Thailand, and in 2019 actor Jean Reno revealed it had been a gruelling shoot with people fainting on the set.

Spike Lee admitted to Yahoo it was hard work shooting in Southeast Asia. “It was 100 degrees every day, and insects,” Lee tells us. That’s 37.7c for us Brits.

“The first day of every semester, I tell my students at NYU Grad Film: ‘nothing is easy’. This film would not be the same film if we’d shot it on a Hollywood backlot.”

DA 5 BLOODS (L to R) ISIAH WHITLOCK JR. as MELVIN, NORM LEWIS as EDDIE, CLARKE PETERS as OTIS, DELROY LINDO as PAUL, JONATHAN MAJORS as DAVID in DA 5 BLOODS. Cr. DAVID LEE/NETFLIX © 2020
DA 5 BLOODS (L to R) ISIAH WHITLOCK JR. as MELVIN, NORM LEWIS as EDDIE, CLARKE PETERS as OTIS, DELROY LINDO as PAUL, JONATHAN MAJORS as DAVID in DA 5 BLOODS. Cr. DAVID LEE/NETFLIX © 2020

Lee was committed to hiring local talent for all aspects of the production. “You just can’t come with that American imperialism thing,” he explains in press notes for the film. “I had never been to Thailand before. I had never been to Vietnam before. This is their land. This is their history. I welcomed their participation.”

“We were shooting in 104 degrees (40c) on some days,” adds Clarke Peters, who plays former medic Otis in the film.

Read more: Da 5 Bloods star on playing a Trump supporter

And it shows. The actors not only play their present day characters, they also play their younger selves at the height of the combat, taking part in exhausting action scenes.

DA 5 BLOODS (L to R) Director SPIKE LEE, ISIAH WHITLOCK JR. as MELVIN, DELROY LINDO as PAUL, JONATHAN MAJORS as DAVID, CLARKE PETERS as OTIS and NORM LEWIS as EDDIE of DA 5 BLOODS Cr. DAVID LEE/NETFLIX © 2020
DA 5 BLOODS (L to R) Director SPIKE LEE, ISIAH WHITLOCK JR. as MELVIN, DELROY LINDO as PAUL, JONATHAN MAJORS as DAVID, CLARKE PETERS as OTIS and NORM LEWIS as EDDIE of DA 5 BLOODS Cr. DAVID LEE/NETFLIX © 2020

You can see the sweat pouring off the actors but Delroy Lindo, who plays the Trump-supporting Paul, says it was easy work compared to the work of the crew.

“We were doing the heavy lifting, emotionally and psychologically, and somewhat physically, but the Thai crew that we were working with were one of the most extraordinary crews i’ve ever worked with. In. My. Life.”

DA 5 BLOODS (L to R) ISIAH WHITLOCK JR. as MELVIN, NORM LEWIS as EDDIE, DELROY LINDO as PAUL, CLARKE PETERS as OTIS and JONATHAN MAJORS as DAVID in DA 5 BLOODS  Cr. COURTESY OF NETFLIX © 2020
DA 5 BLOODS (L to R) ISIAH WHITLOCK JR. as MELVIN, NORM LEWIS as EDDIE, DELROY LINDO as PAUL, CLARKE PETERS as OTIS and JONATHAN MAJORS as DAVID in DA 5 BLOODS Cr. COURTESY OF NETFLIX © 2020

“And they were doing literal heavy lifting, lugging hundreds of pounds of equipment up and down those hills. They did it every single day for the entirety of the shoot. And my thing is, if they can lug the hundreds and hundreds of pounds of equipment up and down that terrain, I’m fine to do the heavy lifting I need to do psychologically and emotionally on this film. They were extraordinary.”

Da 5 Bloods releases globally on Netflix on 12 June. Watch a clip below.