L. JACKSON talks SNAKES ON A PLANE
Movie stars don't come any cooler
than Samuel L. Jackson. He's played a wide variety of memorable roles,
and carries a screen presence that demands respect. His newest film,
SNAKES ON A PLANE, is reminiscent of cheesy horror and action movies from
the 80's... and that's just fine by Sam. In fact he threatened to
boycott the film after the studio suggested changing the title to PACIFIC
FLIGHT 121. But this film went through more than just title changes.
It very quickly gained incredible buzz on the internet. Fans demanded it
be R instead of it's intended PG-13, and vehemently requested some more
"traditional" Sam Jackson dialogue be added. Strangely enough, the title
stayed, and the fans got their wish. While attending San Diego Comic-Con
in July of 2006, I had a chance to talk to Sam about the movie, and some of
his other work. Here is what he had to say.
MARK: The thing I don't
understand is why Hollywood would be opposed to it. When you go into a
room to make a pitch, it's always that one-line pitch. Why not just give
that to the movie audience as well, and say this is what the movie is about?
Because somebody who wears a suit and went to Harvard business school or some
other place, thinks they know how to market movies. They say "We gotta
keep it a mystery. We'll bring 'em in and then they'll see. We'll
call it PACIFIC FLIGHT 121. Then we'll spill the snakes on 'em."
NO ASSHOLE! (laughs)
MARK: So do you like
doing horror movies?
Yeah man. I'm gonna do another one Sunday, called SECTION 8. It's
a Stephen King short story, in London.
MARK: Oh that's great!
Are you a Stephen King fan?
Yeah, absolutely. I guess it's good if they're going to make a movie out
of it. But hopefully it won't be a three hour movie, just a good short
story movie. Keep it short, keep it scary.
MARK: How much input
were you given during SNAKES ON A PLANE, like creative input?
Were you ever able to go in and say "Here's some ideas" or something to punch
up the scenes a little bit?
Yeah, but those are things we couldn't put in the movie! Hah-ha!
MARK: Kenan was saying
he did a lot of improv.
Yeah he did, we had to choke him for that, and say SHUT UP!
"Yeah, we know you're funny!" ...that kind of thing?
Yeah! "We're not doing that movie yet!" Heh. No, not really.
There were things that I wanted to do, but knowing we were shooting a PG film
you couldn't do. There were things that I wanted to say that I ended up
saying because we went back to shoot 'em. That one line that the fans
wanted was something I said in the middle of the shoot anyway. I kept
saying to David "well why don't we just shoot this stuff anyway so we don't
have to come back?" David even had a great idea, he wanted to shoot the
"spoof" of the movie while we were doing it. It would have been a
fantastic idea, just do one take where it's a spoof of what we're doing and
move on. And we'll have that for the DVD or whatever later up. But
those people in those suits...
MARK: Oh, the suits.
They didn't see where we were trying to go with it. They always think
they're smarter than us. I've done like almost 100 films now, but most
of those people have had their job for like a year and half. Maybe
they've done two films.
MARK: Hollywood has
really changed. It's not a lot of older guys running it. It's
young guys now.
Yeah, and young guys who....
MARK: They don't know
And they're not... they're not audience friendly, let me put it that way.
how his decision came about to do a movie like SNAKES ON A PLANE
I did a movie like this because it's the kind of movie I'd go to see on a
Saturday afternoon with my friends. And we couldn't wait for it to come
out so we could go and yell at the screen, and reach around and touch somebody
on the neck and they'd go AHHHH! I find myself a lot of times reading
scripts and remembering a particular movie I saw when I was a kid. So
that reminds me of it, and I thought "I need to do something like this"
because I remember how much fun I had going to see it. A lot of times
movies were let's leave home on a Saturday afternoon and sit at the movies all
day, cause that's when they didn't put you out. You'd just stay there
all day long. I'd be at the movies and watch a movie three times.
That's the kind of movie I want to do sometimes. Something that's
entertaining and fun, and somebody's afternoon escapism. And then
there's the great story that comes along that you want to tell, and it's fun
and fine to do as an actor, to stretch yourself and to give yourself a
challenge as an actor. There's no plan for a big studio movie here or an
independent movie here, because movies are ready to go when they're ready to
go. So if the independent movie is ready to go I jump into it, and if
the big studio movie is ready to go I jump into that. I just did a small
film in Calgary, RESURRECTING THE CHAMP, going to do this film for the
Weinsteins called 1408, and after that I'm doing kind of a big studio
sci-fi movie called JUMPER.
Concerning his likeness
being used for Nick Fury in Marvel Comics' ULTIMATES series
Yeah, I'm looking forward to seeing if Nick Fury is actually gonna stay
black when they get ready to make a movie. I see Avi Arad a lot because
we live in the same neighborhood, and I kind of expressed my interest in... I
always wanted to be Iron Man. Because he's kind of a rich dude, who
created this stuff. He's not really kept as a superhero, he just creates
stuff to make himself a superhero. But Nick Fury would be great.
I've been reading Nick Fury since THE HOWLING COMMANDOS. I collect
comics. I'm just like all these other people. I collect a lot of
different comics books, I read comics, I'm in Golden Apple (huge comic shop in
L.A.) twice a month. I collect comics on film, kind of geeky about that
too. I collect Anime, kind of geeky about that too. (remember,
we're at the world's largest comic book show) I cannot go down there
man! It's like being in a crack house with no money!
MARK: You know if you
put a stormtrooper costume on...
Exactly, that'd be the only way! Or a Jedi costume.
MARK: They'd be saying
"Man you really look like Samuel L. Jackson."
A LOT like him "Damn, where'd you get that mask?" But as for
comics, the only thing I have that might be valuable... I have the original
LONE WOLF AND CUB set, from #1 to like #47.
MARK: So you're serious
about this. That's good. What do you think was the best comic book
movie ever made?
Best comic book movie ever made... hmmm.
MARK: Or do you think
we've not seen it yet?
You know I'd have to go back to like THE CROW.
Yeah. I remember when I first read it several years ago, I thought "this
would make a great movie." It's too bad that kid died.
MARK: I know, it's such
a shame, but a great film.
Last comic he read?
Last thing I read was the newest 100 BULLETS.
MARK: You know I have
to ask, since you know Avi, and you're such a great comic fan, have you had
any aspirations to maybe write some comics and get involved in the comic book
No. Too much work!
MARK: No ideas for
Nah, I need to work.
But Rosario Dawson is doing
She's got a lot of time on her hands, I work a lot (we laugh) I
work a bit more, how 'bout that?
MARK: So I can't talk
you into starting your own comic book series then?
MARK: I had to try.
So how does it feel now that you're part of the Star Wars universe?
Being a Star Wars fan, is that just like a dream come true? I mean
you're a Jedi now, and you're one of the most well-known Jedis out there...
MARK: How do you fathom
You don't. I remember sitting in the movies and watching STAR WARS
for the first time and thinking "Wow, how do you get something like this?"
...having no idea, just because I was a young actor in New York, doing
theater. It's a long way from there to the movies. And then
eventually I reached a place, in a setting like this but on a television show,
and they were saying "Are there any directors you haven't worked with before
that you'd like to work with?" and I was like "Uh, yeah, George Lucas, they're
filming Star Wars and I'd really love to be in that." Then somebody said
to George Lucas "There's this kid Sam Jackson that really wants to be in your
movie." Yeah, right. Then going to the ranch and meeting George,
and saying "Yeah, I'll be a stormtrooper, I don't care. I'll put on that
white helmet and run across the stage. As long as I know I'm in it, I
don't care if anybody else knows."
And they said "We'll do better than that, don't worry about it." ... not
really knowing what I was going to do. When I got there for Episode I, I
hadn't seen the script, hadn't seen any pages. They just said come to
London, and I went to London. They said "You have a costume fitting
today." I went in for a costume fitting, and I walked into the dressing
room, and there were some Jedi robes in there. I was like "What?
This is mine? This is me? This is me?! I'm a Jedi?!?!
GET OUT OF HERE!!!" It was like the biggest smile in the world.
And you know, to end up the way my character ended up and being as important
as it was is like a real blessing. And George was great about it.
Like he said, he didn't know how I was going to fit into all of this, but I
showed up... I did the thing I usually do. I showed up, I stayed out of
the way, I learned my lines, when he needed me I hit my spots, and I didn't
complain about not having anything to do. I had more and more to do as
time went on, and it paid off.
MARK: It definitely
paid off in the end.
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Snakes On A Plane
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