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September 2005
The Man: An Interview with Samuel L. Jackson

The Man : An Interview with Samuel L. Jackson

By Wilson Morales

Samuel L. Jackson has done so many films this year (Coach Carter, In My Country, XXX: State of the Union, and Star Wars Episode 3) that you probably wondering what genre he hasn’t done. To Samuel, all his films are fresh. His latest film, The Man, pairs him up with Eugene Levy. Jackson plays a detective trying to solve a case and used Levy’s character as bait to lure the criminals. In speaking with blackfilm.com, Jackson talks about working with Levy and what his upcoming projects are.

How did it feel to be someone's bitch?

Samuel L. Jackson: It's kind of funny because when I read the script I said that this was going to be a moment that was going to be difficult for me to like work. I knew it was going to be hilarious because people are used to seeing me do this thing that I do and certain roles then all of a sudden to have to say that Ok let me figure out how I'm going to do it and nce it happens the camera guys they were doing it handheld and we had to keep doing it because they were cracking up. Then Eugene out of nowhere did all of sudden who's my bitch and I was like we ddint rehearse that. And I said if you're actually going to do that you might as well smack me on the butt.

How did you and Eugene get along?

SLJ: We met and kind of immediately liked each other. Throughout the work process I knew that he tried and approached the work from the same place I do in trying to find a very real place to start the action of a particular scene and keep it grounded in the reality of what's going on. Eugene is the type of guy that you just look at him and want to laugh. It's pretty difficult to keep a straight face while he's talking to you.

The two of you come from difference places?

SLJ: I don't know if its that different only because I was in the theatre and
Eugene was in SCTV for so long and I worked at the negro ensemble company and in various companies. You learn to work with other people and you learn to do characterizations because SCTV was built on doing all these quirky kind of characters. We actually had the same kind of experience. We have a great feel for what each other is going to do because we used to being in an ensemble playing field.

What do you think is the difference in between the two of you?

SLJ: The dreds, scars, the earrings, the tattoos, that's a character in his worst nightmare that he couldn't conjure up. It was just something for me to stare in the mirror every time. It was my idea to add all that stuff.

Your slow burns were worthy of Jack Benny or Oliver Hardy. Did you find it was easy to establish?

SLJ: I've done comedy on stage, and I don't get to do it a lot in films for whatever reasons. I don't read a lot of comedies that strike me. Comedy is all about timing and there always has to be a straight man and there always has to be this other guy. And having grown up watching Jack Benny, Milton Berle, Bill Cosby and even Amos and Andy I have the whole Amos and Andy collection. So I watched it a lot and having the opportunity to use the things that I watched and kind of remember is kind of like paying tribute to those guys. And Gene coming from SCTV has this great kind of comic thing that he's capable of doing is just a matter of being in it and knowing what my character has to do to make that particular thing work so it's very symbiotic.

Can you talk about “Black Snake Moan"?

SLJ: Character name is Lazarus, he’s an old blues musician who stopped playing the blues to become a farmer and kind of remarried and had a family and his wife runs off with his younger brother and he finds this girl on the road and she happens to be the town whore and she takes her into his house not knowing who she is and tries to bring her back to health and then he finds out who she is and their relationship kind of develops from there in terms of him trying to redeem her through the bible and life and her getting him back to his music in an interesting sort of way. Justin Timberlake is in it.

Can you talk about “Freedomland”?

SLJ: Freedomland was a movie that I ran from for six or seven years because I thought the subject matter was way too dreprssing. It's like House of Sand and Fog, In The Bedroom; it’s like end of the year academy award nominations hang yourself after you watch them. I decided the right elements are in place and we have Julianne Moore, Joe Roth and I'll do it. Somewhere in that process LaTonya auditioned and was cast in that film.

Latonya, your wife, right?

SLJ: But for me you know if she did get the role because she knows me, well, so what. Hollywood is built on nepotism everybody daughter son, husband wife gets the role because somebody in the right position for them to get it. It works on that level. I was trying to tell him to get over it. You use my name to get hotel reservations and anything else you want. Yes and she is skilled and she has acted longer than I have she always wanted to be an actress. In fact she doing a play at the Westport playhouse directed by Joanne Woodward.. It turned out to be an amazing project. Julianne was great. She was one of those people who would come to the set talking about how great the Knicks game was and it was great and great and soon as the action started she'd be in form crying.

What’s your role in Snakes on a Plane (Formerly flight 121)?

SLJ: An FBI agent who is transporting a witness from Hawaii to LA and the bad guy
puts a crateload of poisonous snakes on the plane about 500 snakes that start killing people on the plane.

Are you looking to take home awards at some point?

SLJ: No, only because I've done so much already. You can't go to work thinking this is the one. I just go to work consequently I end up doing films like this or “Snakes on a Plane” or “Freedomland” which will be released at that time of year, limited run just so they can get it and it will be for your consideration. You do it and you move on to the next movie.


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