The Sam L. Jackson Interview: “What Kind of Name is Obama?”

sam-in-jackie-brown.jpgFrom Hillary to Harrison, Samuel L. Jackson speaks his mind and then some

By Gayl Murphy for Hollywood Today

HOLLYWOOD, CA (RUSHPRNEWS) September 8, 2007— The experiences of checking in with Samuel L. Jackson are as different as the characters he plays onscreen and the headlines of the day.On this particular afternoon, Mr. Jackson is a smiling Mr. Hung Back Guy. When the subject of his beloved golf game comes up, he perks up and tells Hollywood Today, “That’s the one thing that takes me away from the world of whatever is going on around me. READ HOLLYWOOD TODAY 

Especially these days since I’ve gotten into the bad habit of reading the newspaper front to back again because I’ve got so much time on my hands,” said Jackson, who has been an activist since his student days and was an usher at Martin Luther King’s funeral.

“I need the papers and golf course so I can stop thinking about Bush and Cheney and what’s going on the world.” He pauses and then qualifies, “The world is bothering me more than it used to.”

Sounds more like the unscratched itch of his perturbed character from “Jackie Brown,” than the musings of an Oscar-nominated actor (“Pulp Fiction”) with his very own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. But it’s all cool ‘cuz he’s Samuel L. Freakin’ Jackson.

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And, he’s a nonsmoker these days too, giving kudos to a doctor recommended to him by Judge Judy, of all people. “It cost a lot of money. I actually went to this doctor in New York that uses sodium pentothal. I have no idea what he did but I don’t smoke.” Sodium pentothal is a barbiturate sometimes called the ‘truth serum” as it is used in interrogations to weaken resolve.

Yet Jackson has no problem with telling the truth. He does not mince words when it comes to politics.

“Nobody says what they’re gonna do. What’s your platform? How are you gonna fix this and how are you gonna fix that? On one hand, Hillary’s been around. She knows all this stuff and she can get around and can get all this information (because) she used to go to all these parties with her husband and she knows a lot of people who used to run the world.

“Obama doesn’t. Which is kind of OK too, because then we could have a new way of doing it. Possibly from somebody who doesn’t owe anybody anything. Or have preconceived notions of what to expect from whomever. And, then there are those other people who are running around not knowing what they’re gonna do. It’s gonna be an interesting next few months. Everybody is kind of waiting on Gore to come out of the woodwork. ‘OK I changed my mind. I think I will run, now that you liked my movie. (Laughs)’”

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He’s not done with Hillary yet. “Women have this whole thing about her not doing enough for women’s issues and waffling here and there. Strangely enough, black people are really interesting in terms of ‘Why is he named Obama? (Huge laugh!) And that’s a problem for a lot of black people, ‘(They’re like) where the hell did he come from?’ And until they figure that out, they gonna be kinda off this way too. That’s just who we are. (Laugh) Especially in the South, they’re like, ‘Joan Smith, Edwards and ‘O who? What? What?’”

As amusing as his observations can be, Jackson understands the power of the media and celebrity and at this point attempts to back track. “I try to not get involved with things like what I just said. I just realized, ‘Damn, I just said that and now it’s gonna end up online tomorrow! ‘What kind of name is Obama?’ That’s all I’m gonna read for the next two months.”

So should then should actors truly just shut up and act? “Sometime you look at it and you go, ‘Why are you even getting involved in this, you’re an actor.’ And a lot of people use us because they think we influence people, and I guess we do on a certain kind of way. But the majority of us don’t necessarily relate to ordinary people in terms of their taxes, in terms of how they live every day, in terms of what their day to day existence is. So how we feel about it is totally different, unless you’re speaking for your cousins who are still stuck where you came from, or those other people who don’t have medical insurance or whatever, you’re not helping at all and just kinda in the way.”

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And he’s very clear that people don’t walk away thinking he’s dissing the efforts and activism of actors like George Clooney and Don Cheadle. “(Darfur) is important for people to be aware of and contribute to. I’m just talking about our domestic issues (here). We can’t do anything about our domestic issues unless we get in there and do something ourselves.”

With six films in the pipeline including; “Jumper”, starring Hayden Christensen, Diane Lane and Jamie Bell, directed by Doug Liman and “The Cleaner,” directed by Renny Harlin, which has been scheduled and rescheduled for release way too many times, Jackson reminisces on his character of the Champ in his most current movie, Rod Laurie’s uplifting “Resurrecting The Champ.”

For the homeless heavy weight, Jackson says he chose a high-pitched whispery voice for the former fighter. It’s a specific sound he brought from childhood. “That’s my grandfather’s voice at the end of his life. He always talked with a high-pitched whisper that always made me get closer to him so I could hear him.”

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To create the Champ’s backstory, along with the experience of walking in his homeless shoes, Jackson said only had to recall two people to craft his template. “I was (living) in New York and we were in a neighborhood where we had our own personal homeless person. Everybody fed and talked to him. (But) more interesting, there’s this guy that a lot of us who work in the movies know who works on sets as a P.A. (production assistant). He chooses to be homeless. I’ve worked with him in New York, California, Canada – and wherever we are he comes to work with the same clothes on every day. Somebody gives him other clothes, but he chooses to sleep in parks, on the street or on benches. He considers himself homeless, but not a bum and it’s his choice. He’s very street-wise and life smart and takes care of himself.”

Jackson (“Star Wars I-III,” “The Incredibles”) has made no secret of his desire for even a walk-on role in “Indiana Jones 4” so he can stay ahead of Harrison Ford as box office champ of all time. “All I want to do is run across, the screen. I don’t have to say anything, just get my name in the credits so I can stay of Harrison.”

A walk-on role would be a change for the star, yet he‘s used to changing as frequently as the headlines. And his fans love him for it.

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