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Samuel L. Jackson XXX Interview

3BlackChicks Review™... XXX2 - The Interviews (The Diva)

Copyright 1999-Present 3BlackChicks Enterprises™. All Rights Reserved.


The Diva's interview with

Samuel L. Jackson
One of the Stars of
XXX2 (2005)


Copyright Kamal Larsuel and Brad Brevet, 2005

When I think of Samuel L. Jackson I cannot help but always go back to 1994 and Pulp Fiction, in my opinion he has never been better and never more alive, but when it comes to grading him on a pure acting stance I jump forward a couple of years to 1996 when he played Carl Lee Hailey in the film adaptation of John Grisham's A Time To Kill. I am sure you have your favorites as well, but those are mine and there doesn't seem to be any stopping the man as he approaches the 100 film mark and luckily enough we were able to get a few words out of him on his latest, xXx: State of the Union.

Jackson starred in the first xXx film as Agent Augustus Gibbons, an NSA Agent looking for an alternative way of fighting crime, and he found that alternative way in the likes of Xander Cage played by Vin Diesel. Now, in xXx: State of the Union he is once again confronted with a situation that needs an alternative means of resolution, this time he turns to Darius Stone played by Ice Cube.

The first film made over $140 million as it reinvented the spy-actioner, but what exactly drove Jackson to return as Agent Gibbons?

"I look at the character, like the M character who's kind of running the show and in control and sort of gets to choose the xXx characters and makes sure he knows what's going on and in this particular script, there was a bigger reveal of who he was, where he came from, the fact that he's not just a bureaucrat, he's somewhat of a warrior himself," Jackson said. "Often he's willing to step into the line of fire and do the things that he asks the other people to do. It's fun to do action pictures. I still get off on shooting guns and chasing people."

Shooting guns, chasing people and blowing stuff up are the trademarks of the xXx features and there is certainly no lack of that here, but how exactly does Jackson feel about the change in lead characters as Ice Cube replaces Vin Diesel?

"It never occurred to me and I didn't care. I was a lot more worried about my character coming back." He continued, " In the first one there was no talk about anything happening to me. I was just kind of a control guy. When the second script showed up, I was a little bit concerned about, eh, what's this?"

If you aren't familiar with what he is referring to, or haven't seen the trailer then let's just say Gibbons gets in a bit of trouble in this one, but Jackson assures us that if there is a third xXx he would certainly like to be involved but he also understands that there are other factors at work, "Well, I guess we have to wait and see how much money this movie makes. It's all about that. Nothing to do with me. It has to do with how many people go and see a movie, [and] how much money the movie makes. If it makes enough money, xXx 3 is on the drawing board."

As for the xXx 3 successor to Ice Cube, "I don't care. I just want to be sure I'm in it."

It was recently mentioned in articles around the Net that Sam turned down a role in the upcoming 50 Cent film Get Rich or Die Tryin' due to the fact that he didn't like working with actors (ie. musicians) yet to prove their worth. Jackson let's us in on how he felt working with Ice Cube, considering Cube initially stepped onto the scene as a prominent rap artist.

"I've watched his evolution as an actor so I figured if he got into shape and did the training necessary to do all the stuff the script required him to do, then he would be able to pull it off. He has the right combination of street toughness and edge that a xXx character needs to make this thing work and he's anti-establishment enough in terms of what his music career has been that an audience will buy the fact that he's not just going to jump out and be a super-patriot immediately. As usual, we find a way or I guess Augustus Gibbons' major trait is knowing how to pick the right guy for the right job so that when that time comes, that person is willing to step across the line and go the extra mile and get the job done."

During our time with Jackson one interviewer brought up his acting ability and asked if he was most often playing himself and if he structured his performance around his own personality.

"Well you know, it's really difficult to say... every character in some particular way has small elements of who you are only because you have to use your experience and you have to tap into something that is personal to make certain things work. So there's no way that I actually can make my characters shorter than I am so that's always me and I can change my voice and I can change the temper of it but it's still my voice. The attitudes and the way that they treat other people tend to be very different from the way that I would normally treat people, or be the person that I am."

Jackson continued, "The closest I've come to being, I guess, myself on screen, is I think the Zeus character on Die Hard, just because my specific job in that movie was to be an audience member on the inside of a Die Hard movie. I was trying to react the way Sam would react to what John McLean does if I was sitting in the audience. So the audience members would go, "that's what I'd do … I'd say that". So, not often."

Speaking of his other roles, we did get a little insight into Jackson and his feelings on the Star Wars prequel trilogy and audience reaction to the films thus far first by discussing the role of Mace Mindu and the challenges that brought up.

"Well Mace Windu's a lot quieter than I am. He's a lot calmer and he's a lot more analytical and thoughtful than Sam is. Sam's reactionary."

As for the Star Wars world itself he realized the differences and just how he had to approach his character as opposed to playing a Coach Carter or Agent Gibbons.

"It's a fantastical world full of people who have special abilities, you have to be a lot more omnipotent and less vulnerable than, say, a human being because they are. They are involved with characters who are from different particular planets and worlds more so than in the same world you are from and everybody's experience is different. Except for the Jedi which is a whole closed society. I'm not part of a closed, well, I don't know, screen actors are I guess."

Jackson's best comments on the prequel trilogy probably came when asked about how the new trilogy holds up to the original and the general perception that the new films aren't as good.

"Who are those people and what are they talking about? The people that don't like Episode I are adults who were not adults when they saw Episode IV and if you ask any 12 year old kid who was 7 or 6 when they saw the first one, who their favorite character was, they'd say Jar Jar Binks because the first movie is a kid's movie, it's about a kid and gives kids an opportunity to feel like they're a hero. The next movie's a bit more teenage, teenage love, kid's voice changes and he's in love with a girl and he's trying to figure it all out. People didn't like that one too much either but there was enough action in it to satisfy the people. Hopefully this one will be dark enough and bloody enough and will wrap up all those loose ends and everybody will feel some sense of satisfaction so that when they sit down to watch all 6 of them by the time George puts all of them out, they can watch them in any order they want to."

As for what the fans will think of Episode III, "I don't know, I have no idea what these fans want to see. Star Wars fans are kind of a different breed of people. I really have no clue what they expect to see. I don't know because from film to film, people have their favorite films and people have their favorite characters. People have their favorite moments. There are people who write down Jedi on their job application as religion so I don't know."

Beyond Star Wars Jackson has several films in the works including Flight 121, Freedomland and The Man and luckily he spoke a bit on a couple of these titles, Freedomland we're like two weeks into shooting, me and Julianne Moore. It is a story of a young mother who gets carjacked in the projects and her kid is in the car and her brother's a cop in the next town so they descend on the projects, which I had to find a car and a kid. The brother and his police cohorts are jacking everybody in the projects and creating a hot racial atmosphere. So it's a pretty dark and crazy movie."

Jackson also discussed Flight 121, which recently received a name change to Pacific Air 121, a thriller that revolves around a bunch of snakes being let loose on a plane, "The scariest thing you could think of is a crate load of poisonous snakes getting released into the atmosphere on a plane. It says everything about it." As for Jackson's role in the picture, "[I am an] FBI Agent transporting a witness to a trial so the bad guy puts this crate load of poisonous snakes on a plane, they get released into the atmosphere."

With xXx: State of the Union featuring the likes of Sam Jackson and Ice Cube in the lead roles it only seems appropriate to broach the subject of the overwhelming success African American actors have had so far this year at the box office including Jackson himself with Coach Carter and Ice Cube with Are We There Yet? Sam was modest in his opinion but his words give off a sense of pride in this fact.

"I don't know if we're starting a new thing. It just proved the fact that there's an audience for films that have an African-American theme and/or African-American stars on it. First of all, Coach Carterand Are We There Yet, Hitch, Diary of a Mad Black Woman, then Guess Who, then Beauty Shop. And it's just a validation of the fact that there's a huge movie-going audience out there that not only wants to see films that are about African-Americans but we are viable in a box office sort of way that crosses over and not just in African-Americans but in general audiences. It's about good stories, good films and people having a good time when they go to the movies and telling other people they do. Because the majority of people who went to the films don't read reviews because if you read reviews of all those films, you wouldn't have gone to see them."

Look for xXx: State of the Union in theaters on April 29th and then you will see Jackson in Star Wars: Episode III, Revenge of the Sith on May 19th.

I would like to thank Brad at Rope Of Silicon for his collaboration on this article.

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