The scene required me to stand there, this guy walks over to me, and he slaps me in the face. And I look at him fiercely and walk away. And I said to Walter, I said, “You can’t do that.” I said, “Let me tell you a little bit about America and the texture of American culture as it stands.” I said, “That is dumb. It is not very bright.” I said — we’re in the ’60s, this is 1968 or 7 — “You can’t do that.” I said, “The black community will look at that and say that is egregious. You can’t do that, because the human responses that would be natural in that circumstance, we are suppressing them to serve values of greed on the part of Hollywood, acquiescence on the part of people culturally who would accept that as the proper approach.” I said, “You can’t do it.” I said, “You certainly won’t do it with me.” I talked to him about it.
I said, “Therefore, if you want me to do this, not only will I not do it, but I will insist that I respond to this man precisely as a human being would ordinarily respond to this man. And he pops me, and I’ll pop him right back.” And I said, “If you want me to play it, you will put that in writing. And in writing you will also say that if this picture plays the South, that that scene is never, ever removed.” And Walter being the kind of guy that he was, he said, “Yeah,” he said, “I promise you that, and I’ll give it to you in writing.” I ultimately didn’t take it in writing. I just took a handshake because he’s the kind of guy, his handshake and his signature is one and the same. And that made the movie. Without it, the movie would not have done as well as it did.