Samuel L. Jackson: “There is always a piece of me in all the characters I play”

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Apple TV+ airs today the latest episode of The last days of Ptolemy Graya miniseries starring Samuel L. Jackson Y Dominic Fishbackwhich is based on the homonymous novel written by Walter Mosley in 2010. Twelve years after the book’s release, the story has landed on the small screen through the streaming platform’s catalogue.

It tells the story of Ptolemy, a nonagenarian who suffers from dementia and who lives locked up in his house and in the few memories he still has. With Robyn’s help, he decides to undergo a miraculous treatment to regain his memories and to remember who he really is.

On the occasion of the end of the series, SERIES & MÁS was able to speak with the leading actor Samuel L. Jackson, who told us about the experience of carrying out a television adaptation like this.

Waiting for the right moment to tell this story

‘The last days of Ptolemy Grey’ | OV Trailer | AppleTV+

Premiered on March 11, la history of The last days of Ptolemy Gray centers on the character of Ptolemy (Samuel L. Jackson), a man sick 91-year-old who has been forgotten by his family, by his friends and even by himself. When he is suddenly left without his trusted caregiver and on the brink of sinking further into dementia and loneliness, Ptolemy is placed in the care of orphaned teenager Robyn (Dominique Fishback). One day, they discover the existence of a treatment that can restore Ptolemy’s memories, and the two embark on a journey to the truth about their past, present, and future.

This great story is based in the homonymous novel by Walter Mosley, whose pages came into the hands of Samuel L. Jackson ten years ago. The actor acknowledged the great patience he had to muster by having to wait so long until it was time to adapt the book, and recalled talking to everyone about “what it would be like if it were to come true,” including conversations with other members. of the technical team of other shoots. When it was finally time to get going, Samuel acknowledged that he was ready to do so.being clear from the beginning that he wanted to “reject the format of an hour and a half or two hours”, because for him, “it would not be enough to do justice to the story”.

Personal experiences influence interpretation

Samuel L. Jackson as Ptolemy Grey.


When diving into Ptolemy’s story, Samuel L. Jackson explained that he had taken into account his personal experience with a disease as complex as Alzheimer’s. The actor acknowledged not being a method actor and “carry a piece of that history in everything you do”recalling “concrete conversations he had with his relatives and how these are similar to the ones Robyn or Reggie have with Ptolemy”, because for him, “some of those memories are present in the story and he was able to find ways to get them on screen”. An example of this was during the conversations that Ptolemy has with Reggie, where he saw that “he would sit and lose himself in a memory, just like his mother”.

Jackson also recounted how he gets involved with his different interpretations, stating that “there’s always a part of him in most of the characters he plays” and that he “tried to give Ptolemy specific qualities that no one would understandbecause he is very similar to his grandfather’s brothers”. In addition, he considers himself someone willing to take risks, and did not hesitate to confess that he would also be willing to start treating the protagonist.

Telling stories in any medium

Still from the series 'The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey'.

Still from the series ‘The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey’.


As with Ptolemy throughout the series, Samuel L. Jackson was also encouraged to remember his childhood, a key time for him, because it was when he discovered the power that stories can have. “When I was a kid, we didn’t have a TV for a while, and I used to listen to a lot of radio soap operas with my grandfather on the front porch at night.. There, all kinds of stories caught my attention, where there were only voices that nuanced the narration through the form, raising or lowering the volume or modifying the speed of the speech”. The actor explained that it was in those years when “His grandfather encouraged him to make up stories to tell them and that together with his interest in the theater, little by little he became the man he is now and also a storyteller”.

Jackson stopped to think why he hadn’t worked on television until now, since “he’s always thought that as an actor, he should be able to work in any medium”. He alluded to the start of streaming, mentioning The Sopranos, TheWire Y Shield and reasoning that, in reality, they are long stories that could have been good movies. At that time, he confessed that “he has always wanted to be part of those stories, telling a story that goes deeper”, but that “his agents and managers always kept him in the world of movies” and “he never had time to do something like that “.

The years pass the same, but getting older is not perceived in the same way

In addition to dealing with the theme of compassion, another of the great themes that are addressed in the series is the passage of time and aging, and how these affect society’s perception of older people. Samuel L. Jackson also dealt with this topic with ease, explaining that “society today is very different from what it used to be”, and reflecting on the way in which older people are treated, giving the example of “many societies where the elderly are highly respected and people take care of them” and thinking about how in ancient times “having children was also good because they were the ones who would take care of the elderly when the time came”.

Jackson also recalled that he “used to sit with his grandfather a lot and enjoy his conversations with him and his perspective from a very young age” and supposes that “growing up with older people (since he lived with his grandparents as a child), he always had a different perspective on them”. To the, “He was taught to treat the elderly in a specific way and they were all part of his education in some wayso his idea of ​​who they were and how they fit into his life is very different than it is now.” In addition, the actor thinks that “neighborhoods don’t work in the same way” and that “people don’t know who lives above or under them”, although he did. However, he also stressed that the role of older people depends on each one and that “we find a reason for them to be an important part of what happens in our lives”.

‘The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey’ is available on Apple TV+.

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Samuel L. Jackson: “There is always a piece of me in all the characters I play”

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