Today: May 21, 2024

Samuel L Jackson Talks S.H.I.E.L.D

Captain America: The Winter Soldier sees the return of Marvel fan favourite, Nick Fury – AKA Samuel L Jackson – as the head of the espionage and law-enforcement agency, S.H.I.E.L.D. As fans flock to catch the newest installment in the Marvel’s ever growing Avengers movie cycle, Janet Leigh caught up with Hollywood star to talk stunts, storylines and the world of movie superheroes.

What was it that attracted to the Marvel franchise-films?
SLJ: … because it’s Marvel and it’s Nick Fury and it’s fantastic. It’s great … When I was a kid and I was reading comic books I always wanted to be in a role like that … and all of sudden I have the opportunity now to dress up and … wow I’m in that world.

You, more than anyone, jump between Marvel films. Is it a different experience with each film?
SLJ: Well they’re all different because you have different directors, the stories are different, the intent’s different, the tones different. The tone of an Iron Man movie is totally different to the tone of The Avengers and it’s totally different to the tone of Captain America so yeah, they change.

What do you find challenging about the role?
SLJ: Well there’s always a particular challenge in what’s going on and the politics of S.H.I.E.L.D and the situation. I mean Nick Fury is one of the kind of characters where I can just show up and try to be cool all of the time but there’s always something going on. There’s always an ulterior motive. He’s a manipulator. He doesn’t have any super powers so he’s got to have something else. He’s charismatic, he knows how to talk people with superpowers into doing things. So there’s something about him. There’s also some mystery to him because he’s really a contemporary to Captain America. You look at him and you go he’s 97 years-old too, why does he look like that? When I was a kid, I remember Nick Fury in the comic books and he was a white guy smoking a cigar. Now he’s me! [But] There’s something to be said about who Nick Fury is. He has sort of been in charge and seems to be three or four steps ahead of everybody in terms of the chess playing with these people. Now all of a sudden he finds out that he’s been manipulated by someone, so he’s kind of thrown off he’s game. It gives me acting challenges and different things that I need to do with my relationships … with these different characters … who he trusts, who he doesn’t trust or what his relationship for real is with somebody. He’s most intimate relationship is with Natasha and there’s a scene that’s not in this film that we shot that would explain a lot about who they are and what happens when they’re together because they share secrets that nobody else shares and she’s really destroyed by the fact that he didn’t share this secret with her.

Are you happy with how the movie panned out?
SLJ: Yeah it’s a good movie.

How was it for you shooting the car chase scene?
SLJ: Long! It took about ten to twelve days, maybe twelve cars, different cars because every car does something different. There was a second unit shooting the actual driving, a lot of the car crash stuff, the stuff in the streets, the cool cars crunching together and a really great driver by the name of Henry Kenji, did all that driving. He’s an amazing driver, a great stunt man who’s been around for a while. [But] … it just takes time because it’s a big shot and there were a lot of dangerous things going on so safety is more important than anything – well in my mind it is. [The stunt guys] …studied a lot of different car chases and everybody wants to make the best car chase that’s ever been made. Hopefully it’s as exciting for the audience to watch and be apart of as it was for me to be apart of.

What’s your take on conspiracy theory in the real world? Do you believe in any of them?
SLJ: Like what? That the government’s spying on us? Yeah, you don’t think so? You don’t think they know where you are right now? For a long time people didn’t believe they were monitoring your phone calls or looking at what you do. Do you shut your computer at home when you’re not on it? Do you shut it down so they can’t just turn your camera on and see what’s going on in your house, because they can. I believe all that stuff. I’m a child of the 60s, I’m a product of that time. I’ve never believed the government was not trying to find out what was going on with me, but that’s only a problem for people who are doing bad sh**. I’m not doing bad sh** I’m good.

How was it working with Robert Redford?
SLJ: Horrible! (Laughs.) Bob’s great. I know him socially. I used to go to Sundance a lot and I’d see him there and we had conversations there. I missed the opportunity to do a couple of films with him because I couldn’t work schedules out and get out of one film to do the other. But it was an amazing feat for Marvel to get him to come and do this film first of all because it adds an enormous amount of ‘gravitas’ to what we’re doing. For him to come in and integrate himself in this cast was really great. First day I worked with him we sat and we talked about golf and all kinds of stuff for a long time so that by the time we got on screen there was this element of two people that knew each other …. That worked very well and that’s just one of the tricks that actors use – that good actors use – so that when you get on screen you have this real honest kind of thing that happens between you and he did a marvellous job.

*Spoiler Alert*

Did you have anything to do with the quote from “Pulp Fiction” being on Fury’s gravestone?
SLJ: No, there was actually nothing on the stone when we shot the scene. I didn’t even see it until I saw the film the second time.

How did it make you feel?
SLJ: It had nothing to do with me! (Laughs.) It was kind of like, ‘oh, ok that’s cute.’

Are you tired of all the references?
SLJ: ‘Course not. There are actors that go through their whole careers and nobody remembers one thing about what they’ve done in the film so it’s great to have catchphrases, stuff like that. But there’s a whole new generation of kids who come in every year and see Pulp Fiction for the first time so I get like ten million new fans every year. It doesn’t bother me – it’s great. Some actors go through their whole careers and all people say is ‘you were in ummm,’ so I have a perfect reference. People like that. People like A Time to Kill, people like Die Hard. I’ve been in enough films that people like. It’s kind of great.

And what’s your favourite?
SLJ: Long Kiss Goodnight’s my favourite … Because I had a good time making it and it’s a good film. I had a great time with Gena (Davis). It was fun.

How do you deal with actors who work with you for the first time and are intimidated by you?
SLJ: I try to put them at ease; we talk about other things. I laugh with them. I ask them about themselves, how long they’ve been doing it, what they’ve done before. Just gauging their level of confidence or competence, either one. Same things happen with directors too because the majority of time we show up and we’ve been on way more film sets than most directors. That’s an actor kind of curse sometimes because the directors there and their supposed to be in charge and this is their third film and your doing your 96th film and everybody’s standing around and all the crew’s done more films than the director and the director tells you something and you can see everybody kind of go *rolls eyes*

What was it your most exciting moment on set?
SLJ: The most enjoyment? The first time I put on my Nick Fury costume – the first time they accidentally get the scar right and put it on. Things that don’t mean anything to anybody else sometimes but it’s a big deal to you. It’s like the biggest deal on the Star Wars set to me was the first time the guy walked up to me with the case full of lightsaber handles and said pick one. I kind of went ‘Oh my God’ *mimics his excitement* ‘I’m really a Jedi!”

Why do you think the Marvel franchise has been so incredible successful?
SLJ: I actually think that Marvel has figured out something that DC hasn’t. I don’t know why these films are more successful than Superman, Dark Knight, Batman. I think one of the things is that they have embraced the idea of comic book, in terms of humour. The balance between humour and spectacle is so great that people relate to them better than sitting there (watching) Dark Knight. But I think that the villains in Superman and Dark Knight, Batman etc. are more interesting than the superheroes and I think that the superheroes in Marvel comics are more interesting than the bad guys. That makes a big difference.

Previous Story

Ealing Box Set

Next Story

Celebrating Studio Ghibli

Latest from Blog


Memory (2023)

Memory is an exquisite American drama in the tender embrace of Michel Franco’s cinematic prowess.

Once Upon a Time in the West Unboxing

Just two years after Spaghetti Western pioneer Sergio Leone’s The Good, The Bad and The Ugly made history in 1966, the celebrated moviemaking maestro put out another masterpiece and one that –

May December

Taking the case of Mary Kay Letourneau – a convicted sex offender who ended up marrying her victim after she was released from prison – as inspiration, May December weaves a mysterious,
Go toTop

Don't Miss

Iron Man: The Art of the Movie

This Autumn, Titan will be publishing Iron Man: The Art

Who is Morbius?

April 1st, sees one of the most compelling and conflicted