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January 2008
An Interview with Samuel L. Jackson


An Interview with Samuel L. Jackson

By Wilson Morales

February 14, 2008

With it’s dramatic film like ‘Resurrecting the Champ’ or ‘Black Snake Moan’ or a genre film like the ‘Star Wars’ franchise or ‘1408’, you can always expect Samuel L. Jackson to be totally different from the last film you probably. As one of the hardest working men in the business, with about 4-5 films released in theaters annually, Jackson certainly switches gears as much as his hairdo in films. It by his choice as to what hairstyle he wants to rock in the film, and with his latest film, ‘Jumper’, Jackson has elected to go with white hair.

In the film, a genetic anomaly allows a young man named David (Hayden Christensen) to teleport himself anywhere. He discovers this gift has existed for centuries and finds himself in a war that has been raging for thousands of years between "Jumpers" and those who have sworn to kill them. Jackson plays Roland, part of a shadowy organization (Paladins) that has been trying to track David and Griffin down. Jamie Bell plays Griffin, who also has the ability to Jump. Paladins are dedicated to hunting down Jumpers – “abominations” in their eyes – and killing them, believing that only God should have the power to "Be everywhere at once".In speaking with Jackson, he talks his role, the action sequences, and his choice to have white hair for the film.

Why is Jamie’s character different from Hayden’s?

Samuel L. Jackson: Jamie’s character is psychotic character, living alone in a cave, and he has picture of people who he believes are in engaged in this war and he’s very paranoid. He’s also been jumping a lot longer that Hayden, so maybe through the process of doing it longer, things start happening. You do endanger a lot of people because when you jump, the residual things happen around you, and they do leave these rips in the atmosphere. In could be environmental dangerous, but we don’t know yet. I could be someone who for the government or Green Peace.

The jumps looked really cool on screen. I guess you have to trust the filmmakers with that angle.

SLJ: Totally. Plus, I don’t do it anyway since my character doesn’t jump. I had to wait until they made it happen and then we had this machine that holds the rips open so that we can follow it. That’s what we been waiting on. That was one of the plot points when we were shooting the film, was developing this machine that could do that. All of a sudden, we could never get there on time to catch them.

Whose idea was it for your character to have white hair in the film?

SLJ: No body brought it up to me. I brought it up to them, as always. I have only had one director who had a mandate for my hair and I don’t work him anymore. It’s a look. It’s a science fiction movie. When Doug and I talked about it in a comic book sense, and I read comics most of the time. I’ve been reading comics since I was a kid and most characters in comics are very distinct. They have a look of some sort. I think Roland is sort of ageless in a way. We don’t know how old he is and that gives him a sense of gravitas in a way, but he’s also strong and principled. It also makes him distinctive. That’s all. No big deal.

There are 2 more parts to this film. Do they mention where the Paladins come from?

SLJ: Yes, I would think. The first book is Hayden’s character, the second is Jamie’s character and the third book is about the war between The Palatines and the Jumpers and actually my character doesn’t even show up until the third book. So yes, I would imagine if we get there, we will explore the history. At one point, I had a family in the film. My son was about to have a birthday party and they notified me that they found Hayden and I was going to go find him and my son didn’t know if he was going to come back for his birthday and I had to tell him that I had a job to do, and that his great-great grandfather had done it, his grandmother had done it, and how’s doing it and hopefully one day his son will do it because these people are very dangerous and yada, yada….

How many changes did this film go through because it seems like there are a number of things missing from the film?

SLJ: It’s a Doug Liman film. It happens. Doug changes stuff and he has a reason for doing it and apparently they work. All of his other films have worked and hopefully he still has the magic touch. Maybe all this missing stuff will show up on the DVD.

Were the action sequences difficult to shoot?

SLJ: We actually had two separate units. With one unit, we shot some ordinary stuff with Doug and then we had a stunt unit with Simon Crane. We all had stunt doubles. Everyone had stunt multiples. My main stunt double is guy who’s been with me for a very long time. The choreography of the fight scenes was very different. I hadn’t seen the film in a long time. I saw a rough cut a very long time ago, so I don’t know what may have been cut. There are fights with Jamie, where I would be fighting like four guys. There were these three Chinese kids who are acrobats and they kept jumping back and forth so it would always look like Jamie was jumping when I was fighting him. The same thing with Hayden, but he had 5 five guys playing him, and there were a couple of guys dressed like me. We were all on the wire and doing the wire training, but I had a stop date on the film because I had to do another film and when they started to go to Tokyo and Rome and all these other places, I couldn’t go because I was gone so my stunt double went ahead for me. When they came back, I would see it on green screen and react to it.

When you read the script, did all this seem possible to you?

SLJ: Yeah, sure. People do amazing things in movies now; especially with locations and special effects and how people do stuff. I was more interested in how they were going to create the jump. Sometimes, watching what they were experimenting was interesting. They had like 40-50 cameras and Hayden would do something and all of them would go off.

What separates you from doing the next genre? Is it by genre or by role?

SLJ: Whoever is ready to go. You read stuff and agree to do it and they go out and try to raise the money for it and whoever is ready to go out next is you go with. If it’s a drama, then you do drama. If it’s an action film then you do that. There’s no pattern with me.

JUMPER opens on February 14, 2008


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