It was a "Spike Lee joint" that broke the mold.
"Do the Right Thing" rocked the nation when it was first released 25 years ago. Shot entirely on a single Stuyvesant Avenue street block in Brooklyn, N.Y., the film was set over the course of one long, and incredibly hot, day as Mookie (Lee) tries to get through his shift delivering pizzas. The heatwave that fustrates all the characters served as a metaphor for the tensions boiling over in this racially divided neighborhood.
Society has seen changes in the time since Lee first examined the many rifts between different races. The crime-ridden backdrop of New York City, for instance, has altered considerably since the late-1980s. This has been thanks in part to gentrification, a shift in the social landscape which Lee has strongly criticized.
A lot has also changed for the film's cast members -- some of whom, like Rosie Perez and Martin Lawrence, were completely unknown at the time of filming.
Fight the power once again and take a look at how the stars have fared over the years since "Do the Right Thing" first ignited a national debate about race relations.
By: Ken Lombardi
Spike Lee -- Then
Lee was just 32 when "Do the Right Thing" was released.
He had written the film's screenplay in under two weeks and drew upon his own experiences as a Brooklyn youth when drumming up the story. He eventually received an Oscar nomination for best original screenplay.
In addition to writing and directing, Lee also starred as the main character -- Mookie, who finds his loyalties caught between his Italian-American employer, Sal, and the many frustrated black residents making up their Bedford-Stuyvesant community.
Mookie's ultimate decision to incite the rioters to burn down Sal's Pizzeria is still considered controversial to this day.
Spike Lee -- Now
Lee has continued to explore racial themes in his works, as is the case with 1992's "Malcolm X" and 2000's "Bamboozled." Other credits include 1998's "He Got Game," 1999's "Summer of Sam," 2002's "25th Hour," 2006's "Inside Man" and 2008's "Miracle at St. Anna." Lee's latest film, "Da Sweet Blood of Jesus," was financed primarily through Kickstarter donations.
The 57-year-old filmmaker has recently been a vocal critic of the changes seen in the area where "Do the Right Thing" was shot. Lee has said that the neighborhood's sense of culture has diminished with the arrival of new residents who have helped gentrify the area.
He will make an appearance in the area, however, when Brooklyn officially celebrates Do the Right Thing Day on June 30 -- the film's 25th anniversary.
Lee says that he often gets asked if Mookie actually did the right thing at the end of the film. He has said that the question always comes from white viewers, and he has never once been asked by a black person if Mookie was correct in his choice.
Rosie Perez -- Then
Perez got her big break when she was cast as Tina, Mookie's sharp-tongued girlfriend. She also got to show off her dancing skills in the film's memorable opening credits sequence.
In addition to acting in the film (in which she had to perform topless in one of her scenes), Perez also served as the official choreographer.
Her character never once leaves her apartment during the entire course of the film.
Rosie Perez -- Now
Perez went on to serve as the choreographer of "In Living Color" from 1990-1993. She starred alongside Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson in 1992's "White Men Can't Jump," before landing an Oscar nomination for her performance in 1993's "Fearless." She has worked steadily over the years, in films like 1994's "It Could Happen to You," 2001's "Riding in Cars with Boys," 2008's "Pineapple Express" and 2013's "The Counselor."
Perez was a college student in New York while shooting "Do the Right Thing," and she says
she knew the film would be considered controversial for its depiction of
"Like it or not, there are characters like this that do exist," Perez told BET in 2009, "Maybe not this over the top, but they do exist. If you don't want to face the ugly truth that's out there then I don't know what to tell you -- the problem is never going to be solved."
Martin Lawrence -- Then
A stand-up comic at the time, Martin Lawrence made his feature film debut in the supporting role of Cee, a local neighborhood teen.
Martin Lawrence -- Now
Lawrence went on to international stardom during the 1990s, with his own Fox sitcom and multiple hits at the box office.
It's been rumored that the 49-year-old actor will possibly co-star with Will Smith next year in "Bad Boys 3."
Giancarlo Esposito -- Then
One of the more memorable performances came from Esposito as Buggin' Out, who does just that when pizzeria owner Sal refuses to post photos of black celebrities on his "Wall of Fame" inside the restaurant.
Giancarlo Esposito -- Now
Esposito reunited with Lee on several more films, including "Malcolm X" and 1998's "School Daze."
Viewers may be surprised to learn that the same actor who played Buggin' Out also portrayed ruthless meth lord Gus Fring on TV's "Breaking Bad."
In April 2014, Esposito was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
John Turturro -- Then
John Turturro played Pino, the son of pizzeria owner Sal. He doesn't try to hide his prejudices against African-Americans.
John Turturro -- Now
Like Esposito, Turturro appeared in many of Lee's subsequent works. He's also worked frequently with the Coen Brothers.
Turturro recently directed Woody Allen and Sofia Vergara in the romantic comedy, "Fading Gigolo."
Danny Aiello -- Then
Aiello was one of the more well-known members of the cast at the time of filming. He played Mookie's employer Sal, who finds almost everybody in the community practically at his throat during the film's finale.
Aiello received a best supporting actor Oscar nomination for his performance.
Lee had initially pursued Robert De Niro for the role. A photograph of De Niro can be seen during the film on Sal's "Wall of Fame."
Danny Aiello -- Now
At 81, Aiello still continues to work regularly. His latest project, "Reach Me," is due for release in November.
Samuel L. Jackson -- Then
Samuel L. Jackson played the local neighborhood DJ, Mister Señor Love Daddy.
The role was initally offered to Laurence Fishburne.
Samuel L. Jackson -- Now
As one of the most sought-after faces in Hollywood, Jackson's resume is too long to list here.
In 2013, he teamed up again with Lee for a remake of the Korean action thriller, "Oldboy."
Frankie Faison -- Then
Faison played Coconut Sid, one of three locals often seen chattering on the street.
Almost all of his lines were improvised.
Frankie Faison -- Now
Faison reached new career heights after the film's release, with memorable turns in blockbusters like 1991's "The Silence of the Lambs."
His most famous role is Baltimore Commissioner Ervin H. Burrell, which he played on the critically acclaimed HBO series "The Wire" from 2002-2008.
Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis
Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis were married in 1948 and starred in dozens of films together. Both were considered prominent figures in the Civil Rights movement, and perhaps it's only fitting that they then co-starred together in "Do the Right Thing."
Davis died in 2005 at 87, while Dee died in June 2014. She was 91.
Stuyvesant Avenue was practically a character in and of itself. Production designer Wynn Thomas transformed a block of the street, between Lexington and Quincy, into the lived-in setting for the film.
"I think you'd be shocked at how much work went into it to make it look like a normal block - half the block looked like it had been devastated, like it was Dresden or something, and on the other half people lived and they took care of their homes," Thomas told CBS News' David Morgan in 1989.
"The street only had one tree, which became very important, because I as a designer didn't want there to be a sense of anywhere on the block where you could hide from the heat."
A facade for Sal's Pizzeria was built on a vacant lot, and then burned down; the Korean deli was created opposite. The production company also hired members of the Fruit of Islam to help empty out a crackhouse that served as the WE-LOVE radio station (upper far left).
It did not take long for the film's famed "red wall" to be covered in graffiti following the shoot. And today, the vacant lot still exists at the corner of Stuyvesant and Lexington (bottom right).