Captain Marvel and Glass star Samuel L. Jackson reflects on his storied life with The Hollywood Reporter. As the outlet’s January cover story, Jackson goes through the ups and downs of his personal and career hurdles. He also covers how he overcame the odds to become Hollywood’s most influential actor.
Jackson divulged that as a young man in the 1960s, he was an usher at Martin Luther King Jr.’s funeral, which led him to investigate the ideologies of activists on the opposite end of King’s philosophy, such as Stokely Carmichael and H. Rap Brown.
“It was easier for me to side with their ideology” than with King’s nonviolence, he said, “or understand that ‘violence is as American as cherry pie,’ as Brown put it. That made sense to me, you know? Somebody hits you, you hit them back.” He also mentioned how Trump’s America opens him up to the anger he felt as a young person. “When I hear ‘Make America Great Again,’ I hear something else,” he said. “When I see the president and Mitch McConnell and Jeff Sessions going on with that twang, that’s a trip in memory hell. And that does anger me.”
The 1960s was also when Jackson began dabbling with drugs, a habit that lasted for decades and included various drugs. His longest drug of choice was crack, which he used for 15 years starting in the 1980s.
His breakout role as Gator in Spike Lee’s Jungle Fever was actually his first role after his time in rehab.
“All the people in rehab were trying to talk me out of it,” he said. “‘You’re going to be messing around with crack pipes. All your triggers will be there. Blah, blah, blah.’ I was like, ‘You know what? If for no other reason than I never want to see you motherf***ers again, I will never pick up another drug.’ ‘Cause I hated their asses.”
After the success of Jungle Fever, Jackson took second-billing roles that might not have had the prestige of leading man status, but they came with large salaries. Then Pulp Fiction came along.
Jackson said he’d met Quentin Tarantino during a casting session for Reservoir Dogs. While he didn’t get that role, Tarantino remembered him well enough to write a role specifically for him; the role of Jules in Pulp Fiction.
“I vividly remember getting tot he end of [the script] and being like, ‘Wow. Get the f**k outta here. Is this shit that good or am I just thinking, because he wrote it for me, I think it’s that good?’ So boom, I flipped it over and read through it again,” he said.
Now, Jackson has starred in many of our favorite films over the decades, including Marvel’s film franchise as S.H.I.E.L.D. leader Nick Fury. Even though he has already come to the end of his nine-film Marvel deal, he said he’d love to be “the Alec Guinness of Marvel movies,” playing the role of Fury into old age.
His reprisal of Mr. Glass in M. Night Shyamalan’s Glass is also playing on Jackson’s superhero background.
“That’s his superpower,” said Shyamalan. “He genuinely loves to entertain people. It’s something he finds great pride in.”
You can read the full interview at The Hollywood Reporter. Glass comes to theaters Jan. 18. Captain Marvel comes to theaters March 8.