Samuel L. Jackson: “This honorary Oscar does not change my career”

Samuel L. Jackson should not get angry, he has a lot of work done in his own thing and in many other things, “and a very dirty mouth; nobody swears like me, ”he explains between laughs. Although I am sure that today we caught him in a good mood, that he is going to receive an Oscar for that. Honorary, but Oscar, after all. The actor with the gaze capable of pinning the most daring to the spot, born in Washington in 1948, has walked his 1.89 height through the Hollywood hills since he was little more than twenty years old, when he left behind his revolutionary stage within the Black Power, “which does not mean that I am not still part of those who resist injustice; I’m not one to sit idly by.” In fact, he even called former US President Donald Trump a “hemorrhoid”.

With nearly two hundred papers behind her back, this star without an entourage, because, as she says, she goes out to do the shopping and walks around wherever she wants “and, for the time being, no one has wanted to kill me”, doubles her presence in the screens these days. in the party the protégéher character trains a hired assassin from a young age to succeed her in the position, while in the miniseries The last days of Ptolemy Graytempers as a 90-year-old man, sick, without memories and forgotten by all, who is forced to solve a mysterious murder, in an unprecedented record for the king of category action.

A scene from the movie ‘La Protégé’, one of the two films in which Samuel L. Jackson appears on these dates

With the one that is falling, are stories that show the best of human beings needed more than ever?

That’s how it is. Despite what we are experiencing, we cannot stop believing in it because it would mean stopping believing in ourselves and, if there is one thing I know, it is that the thing that can bring us closest to balance is to accept ourselves as we are and, from there, try to change what we don’t like. I believe that there are many examples of life that should reconcile us with ourselves and our fellow men and whose stories are waiting out there to be told. Hopefully this opens the door even more to that other type of more personal or introspective cinema that can perfectly coexist with the one that is pure entertainment. They are not conflicting styles. They are complementary.

Hopefully ‘The Last Days…’ opens the door even more to this more introspective cinema that can perfectly coexist with pure entertainment”

What should an actor know when portraying characters as disparate as a colonel in command of a group of superheroes or an old man with mental problems?

Well, in both cases, the process is the same, and is quite similar to what we apply in normal life to relate to others. It’s about understanding who is next door, or, in the case of my work, the character you’re going to play. Understand the recesses of his mind to put yourself in that space. Obviously, not all characters require the same effort.

In the role of Jules Winnifield, in 'Pulp fiction', in one of the most famous verbose sermons of the Quentin Tarantino film

In the role of Jules Winnifield, in ‘Pulp fiction’, in one of the most famous verbose sermons of the Quentin Tarantino film

In his case, his own experience does not serve to interpret a patient with a degenerative ailment of the mind…

Everything gets complicated, but that’s what observation and the experiences of others are there for. Over the years I have seen my grandfather, my mother and their siblings go through that path to illness so I had a pretty clear idea of ​​what I wanted to show: the isolation, the ghosts that inhabit you, how terrible it’s clinging to living in a place from the past or remembering what you had for breakfast on your birthday two decades ago, but not what you had this morning. The actor’s job is to be able to access that and project it so that others understand the motivations of his character, his contradictions, and what configures them as people. It is a fantastic exercise to take on characters like this and find the answers almost as unconsciously as the character interacts with the stimuli he receives. And if the actors you are working with are affected by what you do and they offer you a response according to that stimulus, you know that you are doing it as you should.

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Do you think that we are worrying more about having a visibly healthy physical state than about the health of our mind or our spirits?

Perhaps. At the time they were evils with a certain social stigma, but now I believe that much progress is being made in the world of science and medicine that allows mental illness to be prevented before it is too late. I hope that we will see in the near future that the deterioration of the mind does not necessarily mean that you are going to lose that person, who is there but it is no longer known if he is, and that we will see that the one who has taken care of us for years is still there and we can love them the way they deserve. I have been fortunate to be able to provide my mother, in many different ways, with the necessary care.

with homework done

Although he arrived at the cinema with capital letters rather late – closer to forty than thirty – Jackson has not let the grass grow under his feet. The unforgettable Jules Winnfield, from pulp fiction, of which centuries of fans know almost all his phrases by heart, shines like a beacon in his filmography –it was his only nomination for the award he receives today, in its competitive aspect– along with various works with his beloved George Lucas, Tim Burton or Shyamalan. They and Tarantino stand out because, according to the actor, “they are smart and come to work with their homework very well done, which is something I also do. For this reason, I usually collide with those who are not so prepared and also despise my vision of the character. After so many years I know very well what the public expects of me”.

As Colonel Fury, in Marvel's The Avengers saga

As Colonel Fury, in Marvel’s The Avengers saga

For a decade, his greatest commitment has been with Marvel, which has commissioned him to play the regal and charismatic Colonel Fury -white in the comics-, on many occasions, and stars in the miniseries Secret Invasion that is awaited with real expectation. . As the “rara avis” that is his, he has been married for four decades to the same woman –producer LaTanya Richardson–, and is the father of a daughter who does the same thing as his mother. And as old as he confesses to feeling, the devil of the party – he is reputed to have been a real bar closers in his crazy and dangerous young years – he carries it inside. Her 70th birthday celebration is known among her friends as “the mother of all parties.”

He is a great star of commercial cinema, but when he decides to produce a project, he chooses a story with an air of social commitment…

It is simply something that, due to proximity, I felt I had to do not only as a protagonist; I wanted to express my commitment from my own ground, get involved not only at an interpretive level. Also working in production gave me the freedom to make specific choices that ultimately made me feel more confident to create the product I really wanted. But I defend the escape cinema completely. It’s what I saw as a child. So heroes didn’t wear capes. They were cowboys or policemen. TV series were full of savvy agents with guns in hand. If the story is serious and worthwhile, you find your audience. People go to the movies to feel better and get out of their daily existence. And, sometimes, also to find reasons for reflection.

Seeing yourself characterized as an old man made you reflect on your own old age?

I’m afraid it’s too late to be afraid of growing old. I’m old (laughs). Every day that I wake up is a blessing. I can move; continue with myself day by day doing what I like. Life still has a lot to offer, and I always hope, at the beginning of each day, that there is something new waiting for me; whatever: fun, exciting, appetizing. But come on, although when I look in the mirror I don’t get scared anymore, I have to admit that the creators of makeup destroyed me perfectly (laughs). Just as I had imagined; So much so that I thought it wouldn’t be too difficult to bring it to life because they were giving me an incredible base to work with on a physical level to convey what we wanted in a realistic way.

The characterization that those responsible for makeup proposed for his role in 'The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey' has helped him in the interpretation

The characterization that those responsible for makeup proposed for her role in ‘The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey’ has helped her in the interpretation

Are you proud of your legacy; what will he leave for those who come after?

I dont complain. I am sure that among all those films that I have made there are some that can be of some use to someone, in some way, but I prefer to do things at the moment. That is why I feel especially proud of having given the opportunity to many new talents, in all areas, to be known; to get that final little push that makes them notice them, as they gave me at the time. Above all, to many actors who may have sounded familiar to people from some projects, but who have not just been recognized for their work and now have had the opportunity for people to see them like never before, giving their careers projection. Giving up space to those who arrive wanting to show us what they are capable of doing seems more important to me than my legacy.

The honorary Oscar, however, recognizes it…

And I appreciate it very much, although, in reality, it does not vary much in anyone’s career, and I share it with many people who helped me in the beginning when I was looking for my place. They were really good years for me. I met a lot of people, friends who continue to be friends now, after so much time. Many helped me understand how the business worked and it is a great experience to look back and see how you were advancing little by little, job by job and hand in hand with those who were by your side. And now, there are often reunions that are as rewarding as the new experiences.

In 'Django Unchained' he plays a fearsome servant

In ‘Django Unchained’ he plays a fearsome servant

He advocates creating the Oscar for the most popular film…

Sure. I don’t think it’s fair that Spiderman: no way home that, after the worst of the pandemic, has been the film that has brought the public back to theaters en masse, is not reflected in the nominations, because its merit for the industry has been enormous. And he has done what movies are supposed to do: bring the audience into a darkened room. Honestly, there are people who have shelves full of awards and nobody is able to recite a single line that they have spoken in any film.

In any case, among its almost two hundred characters, you will have your favorites…

The truth is that I have never considered that kind of ranking. I liked most of them in the circumstantial framework of their history and context; at the time of that particular film, but once the work is done, I never look back. I have been lucky that on most occasions they have been enriching experiences because you always find valuable travel companions even in the most adverse circumstances; actors, directors, crew members… In the end, I think it’s very important to be able to be on set in the present moment and enjoying, creating and acting. That is the life I chose. Although the mystery of the cinema is becoming less and less. You, me, or a kid with a cell phone can make a movie in a couple of minutes…

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Samuel L. Jackson: “This honorary Oscar does not change my career”


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