Interviewing Samuel L. Jackson seems like you are just talking to a regular guy about his job. Nothing seems too interesting, except for the occasional story. He is the one guy that I have talked to that seems to treat acting as a job. This first time this became overwhelmingly evident to me was when he made some remarks about 50 Cent and the possibility of starring in 50 Cent’s Get Rich or Die Tryin’. Jackson turned down the notion saying, “Hollywood people tend to think that because one is successful in one aspect of entertainment they can bring them into this particular world and make a success out of them.
“They ask people like me to be in a film with those people that they are kind of headlining and your name ends up behind them.
“If you do that, it sanctions the fact that these people come into this world and you think they are worthy of you sharing your time on screen with them. I don’t particularly think that.”
This is not a slam on 50, this is a man who views acting as a job. The comparison he draws reminds me of Michael Jordan trying out baseball. Didn’t work out too well and I am sure, while Jordan is very well respected as a basketball player Ken Griffey Jr. wouldn’t take too kindly to a comparison as a centerfielder.
I had a chance to sit down with Jackson and talk his upcoming film, Home of the Brave, his thoughts on the war in Iraq and even a little 50 Cent. Enjoy!
Why did you want to do this movie?
Sam Jackson (SJ): I didn’t have anything else to do; it was that time of the year, first job of the year. I don’t do a lot of films that deal a lot with social commentary I guess. Every now and then you see something that kind of hits you, the fact that “okay, the war is in the news, but what is really in the news?” The news is a lot of these kids are coming home, or not coming home, and people are affected by it. So we should find a way to put a face on that and I thought it was an opportune time to do that. We don’t often do things that are about things that are happening while they are happening.
Did you get a chance to talk to anyone that may have been in the same situation as your character?
Sam Jackson: Well I did talk to a lot of guys that were in the service, not actually that had anything to do with this film. I just kept running into kids either on their way, or on their way back. Last Christmas I had a conversation with this girl, her name was Deja Dru, she was 19 years old and she was coming home from Iraq for a short vacation and then she was going back.
I asked, “What is it that you actually do?” She said, “Well I go to people’s houses and explain why we are there and what we are doing and how we can help.” I said, “So you speak the language?” She said, “No, I have this guy who interprets for me.” It struck me as kind of strange because I guess she has to trust this guy that he’s saying what she’s saying and not saying, “The white devil here is going to come and slit your throat tonight while you and your kids are sleeping.”
I kept running into them, but I have spent enough time around army doctors and army hospitals to understand the phenomenon and I read enough about field hospitals, which are actually are a lot better equipped than what we depicted in the film. I mean they have guys that are capable of doing microsurgery in the field like that [snaps]. I guess, for dramatic purposes, we had a remote kind of field hospital where all those things weren’t possible. It’s just interesting to explore the human condition in a way that you have a guy that comes home, my particular character, comes home and can’t really talk about what he say, what he did. He’s got a kid at home that’s against what he was over there doing, who really doesn’t have all the information about what’s going on. Like most kids they think they’re smarter than you, you’re just old and don’t understand and life’s just not fair. So they don’t want to talk to you about. It was good to put a face on those things.
What are your personal feelings about the war in Iraq?
Sam Jackson: Personal feelings? Personal feelings is we should all come home and let those people go back to going to the store everyday like they did before we got there. They’ll sort it out. All they needed was to get rid of the guy at the top. We did that, now we can go home. I actually thought we went over there so gas would be cheaper. Then all of the sudden, gas was $5 a gallon and now that it’s $4.50 I think I’m getting a bargain. So come home.
What was the most disturbing thing about shooting this film?
Sam Jackson: Being in Spokane for fourâ€¦ Nah, I can’t say that.
Talk about something crazy from the set?
Sam Jackson: It was funny, when we were shooting the M*A*S*H unit all the stuff started going off and they brought this one guy in on the stretcher and threw him up on the table and when I pulled the thing back he really had one leg and I didn’t know that! There was like all this blood and all this stuff and it was like, “Whoa! Ow!” and then they told me they hired real amputees and I said, “Well you should have told somebody!” That was kinda freaky to me but I got over it pretty quick. [laughing]
Sam, was it coincidental that you were in this movie with 50 Cent after your comments regarding not wanting to work with 50 Cent?
Sam Jackson: Things happen. There’s not a lot I can do about who people are going to cast in films. They asked me when they were thinking about going with 50 Cent if it was okay, because they read all the stuff too and I was like, I read the script and it’s not like we have a lot to do together, but yeah, that’s fine.
Plus, he and I have a very amicable relationship. I listen to his music, he calls me on the phone from time-to-time, we talk. It’s not like, “I hate you!” I don’t care. It seems to be a tide I can’t stem and I am not trying to stem it, they all have a right to try and expand their careers any way that they want to, I just don’t need to expand them at my expense or at the expense of younger actors who are trying to make a living doing this job. I think it’s fine people do what they do. I actually haven’t seen the film, I’ve seen some of the things I do in it, but I am not really sure how good or bad or otherwise 50 Cent may be in this film.
Did you feel like you missed out not being able to film where it is all taking place?
Sam Jackson: We were in Morocco, that is as close as I needed to be. You don’t want to be where they’re really doing it. You don’t want to be anywhere that is close to it. I’m an actor, I just want to pretend we’re doing it. I don’t need to be down the street from where it’s happening, no real bullets coming by.
What have you looked at lately?
Sam Jackson: I get scripts every week. I read them and I don’t know the story until — sometimes I look at the title and go “Oh, Snakes on a Plane, yeah” or I read something the other day called “Repossession Mambo” and I was like, “hmm okay. What is this??” and it turns out that it was about some guys who work for a repossession company in the future, but the work for a company that sells peoples organs. So when people don’t pay their bills, they go get their organs. This is good!
Were you happy or disappointed with the outcome of Snakes?
Sam Jackson: I was pretty ambivalent about it actually. I am kind of jaded about what goes on in this business and I know that things we expect the most from we get the least results and the things we expect the least from we get the most from. So, I thought the expectation for Snakes was a bit high, just because all year long people had been having fun doing whatever they were doing with it. So the movie was pretty anticlimactic to whatever folks that had fun doing all year long. The interesting thing about all the people that were having all that fun doing it is those people don’t go to the movies [simulates typing on a keyboard], they sit at home and have fun doing that, that’s what they do, they don’t go out to the movies. They’ll probably buy the DVD because they can sit home and watch it or download it from somewhere, but I didn’t expect them to go into the big dark room.
Home of the Brave opens in theaters on December 15, for more on the film click here.