‘Defiant Ones’ Director Allen Hughes On The Most Painful, Rewarding Documentary He’s Ever Made

Hip-Hop Editor
11.28.17

Getty Image / Uproxx

The Defiant Ones, Allen Hughes’ masterful documentary profiling music impresarios Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine of Aftermath Entertainment and Interscope Records, respectively, hits Blu-ray today after initially airing on HBO in July of this year. Filmed over a three-year period, the four-part series detailed each of the icons’ rise from humble beginnings to household names, including never-before-seen studio session footage of legends like Eazy-E and interviews with both Iovine and Dre, as well as collaborators and businesses partners such as Bono, David Geffen, Eminem, Ice Cube, Gwen Stefani, Jon Landau, Tom Petty, Snoop Dogg, and Bruce Springsteen.

With The Defiant Ones coming to home media, I spoke with director Allen Hughes — famed for such classic films as Menace II Society and Dead Presidents — about the stories that weren’t told in the nearly five-hour documentary, from having Dr. Dre’s apology to Dee Barnes filmed already when an internet furor broke out after the success of NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton, to the reactions from the film’s subjects to seeing the finished product on television, as well as the 1958 film Hughes took inspiration from for his film’s title. Hughes turned out to be forthcoming, magnanimous, and sagacious in addition to being unexpectedly funny in this follow-up to Uproxx’s July interview before the series aired.

While the focus of our conversation remained on The Defiant Ones and its upcoming DVD release, I couldn’t help but ask a few questions about other movies Hughes has worked on with his brother Albert, including which of his projects is his favorite, and what he has planned next. While he isn’t quite sure of what’s to come, he says he’s always seeking out new filmmaking challenges. Hopefully, his future work is just as brilliant as his work on The Defiant Ones, but as he tells me, the work is only as good as the support system, time, and resources available to the auteur.

The Defiant Ones aired July 9th through July 12th. So what was the overall reception amongst the folks featured in the documentary? Have any of them give you feedback?

Oh yeah. I’ve heard from so many people who have… Yeah, that’s an interesting process. But, you know it’s interesting [that] some of them saw it before it came out. I’ve definitely heard from a lot of people. Everyone was blown away. They were blown away by the approach and catching the detail, you know? The fact that most times you’re doing interviews you go, “What happened to my part?” Or “What happened to that line?” They felt like the essence of what they were saying was… everyone was just, I think, blindsided by the approach and appreciated that their personality or spirit came through. That was a surprise… I mean including someone like Dee Barnes. It was just really overjoyed by the approach and the way that was handled. I was moved by that especially.

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