With a filmography that includes roles in some of the highest-grossing movies of all time including The Avengers, Iron Man and the Star Wars series Samuel L. Jacksonclearly knows how to pick ‘em. And that is entirely intentional. His current film Django Unchained, in which he is reunited with frequent director Quentin Tarantino opened to strong grosses on Christmas Day and is already looking like another solid box office hit.
In the film he plays Stephen, the conniving house slave for Leonardo DiCaprio‘s despicable character Calvin Candie. As the manipulative slave, Jackson says he is playing perhaps the most hated negro in cinematic history. He’s fine with that. “At least he’s a memorable character. I mean Quentin writes interesting characters. I’ve been pretty despicable in most of his films. People loved Jules (Pulp Fiction) but he’s a murderer. People loved Ordell (Jackie Brown) but he’s a murderer. Stephen has an unusual take on slavery. He’s okay with it,” he says and is not worried about what African American audiences might think (Spike Lee has already chimed in to express his displeasure with the film’s depiction of slaves). “I hope he’s reviled, and people want to see him die. People enjoy him, but it’s strange. He’s a funny guy in a way, despicably funny. People laugh at Stephen and what he does, but you know they do want to see him dead.” But still slavery is a serious subject and Jackson says Tarantino’s larger than life and sometimes comical take is aimed more for the masses.
“I would say that Quentin’s way is the way to reach a larger audience, and slavery seems to be another backdrop. We seldom understand that when people were out there shooting Indians or whatever, on the other side of the Mississippi there were people getting beaten down. This is the first time those genres cross paths,” he says. “When you take that and make it entertaining in a way, you express the brutality of what slavery really was, of how people were really property and the way people treated them. Everyone’s all ‘oh my god, Quentin’s written ‘nigger’ 176 times on a script again’… This is an homage to Mandingo, those movies Quentin likes. He has a habit of mixing genres of movies he likes. Django Unchained is essentially a spaghetti western exploitation movie with some Hong Kong overtones. He knows the movies that we like. I tend to go on location with about 30 Hong Kong films — I have a lot of Asian crime films in my trailer just to pass the time. Every time he’d pass my trailer he’d ask, ‘what are you watching now?’ and we’ll talk about it. We had long conversations about those movies. We tend to watch the same kind of bullshit. Entertainment”…
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