AFI Movie Club: INSIDE MAN – American Film Institute
Inside Man Film Still - Denzel Washington and Willem Dafoe



INSIDE MAN’s celebrated creative ensemble includes AFI Conservatory alum and cinematographer Matthew Libatique (AFI Class of 1992), AFI Honorary Degree recipients director Spike Lee and Jodie Foster and AFI Life Achievement Award honoree Denzel Washington. In 2006, the film was recognized with an AFI AWARD as one of the best films of the year.  


DID YOU KNOW? Originally, director Ron Howard was set to helm INSIDE MAN, but he left the project to direct CINDERELLA MAN. When director Spike Lee came on board, INSIDE MANbecame an anomaly in his filmography – as the movie was neither written nor co-written by Lee. 

DID YOU KNOW? INSIDE MAN marked the fourth time director Spike Lee has worked with Denzel Washington. Lee offered Washington his choice of roles in the film – and the actor turned down the part of Dalton Russell, because the character appears masked throughout most of the picture. Clive Owen also had qualms about being masked throughout; the script was ultimately revised to include scenes where the character’s face was revealed.  

DID YOU KNOW? The telephone conversations between Clive Owen and Denzel Washington were shot simultaneously with cameras filming the two actors on different sets at the same time. 

DID YOU KNOW? As an homage to DOG DAY AFTERNOON, director Spike Lee cast actress Marcia Jean Kurtz – who played a hostage named Miriam in the 1975 classic – in the role of hostage Miriam Douglas in INSIDE MAN. Lee gave the role of the policeman who delivers the pizzas in INSIDE MAN to Lionel Pina, who had also portrayed a pizza delivery man in DOG DAY AFTERNOON.  

DID YOU KNOW? The name on the pizza boxes that were delivered to the bank is “Sal’s Famous Pizzeria,” which was the fictional pizza parlor in director Spike Lee’s 1989 iconic film, DO THE RIGHT THING. 

DID YOU KNOW? Director Spike Lee had the cast improvise many of the scenes in INSIDE MAN including the interrogations and a discussion with a justreleased hostage at a coffee shop. Lee noted that he almost ruined the end of the latter scene by laughing at a joke Denzel Washington improvised about getting a taxi.  

Learn more at the AFI Catalog.

Click Here to Find Out How to Watch INSIDE MAN Now

INSIDE MAN – Reelgood


The movie doesn’t end at the credits: Discussion Questions

Join the conversation on Twitter and Instagram now using #AFIMovieClub. Or post your responses in the comment section below.

  • What was Dalton Russell talking about in the first few minutes of the movie? Where was he imprisoned?  
  • What is the character Madeleine White’s job in the movie? What does Arthur Case need her to do for him? 
  • Why do the bank robbers move the hostages around to different rooms? Why do they dress everyone the same? 
  • Why are the interrogation scenes filmed and lit differently than the rest of the film? What was director Spike Lee trying to accomplish? 
  • Detective Frazier finds a diamond in his pocket at the end of the movie. Where did it come from? If you were Frazier, would you keep it? 
  • What was the significance of detective Frazier interrupting the lunch of the mayor and Madeleine White? 
  • How would you rate INSIDE MAN? 


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