As I said in a Lee Daniels post yesterday, as an interviewer, it’s so refreshing when the person you’re interviewing isn’t afraid to speak freely and honestly about whatever it is you ask of them. It makes the entire experience so much more interesting and even relaxing, which I believe translates to a just as interesting read.
Samuel L. Jackson is another one of those old school cats who just doesn’t give a you-know-what. I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing him just once, for Django Unchained, but it was during a press junket for the film, which meant I had no more than 10 minutes to talk to him. It’s always nice when you have what feels like all the time in the world to have a real, in-depth conversation with the people you’re interviewing, and you’re allowed to ask them almost anything.
Playboy magazine got such an opportunity to chat with Samuel L. Jackson in an 4-page interview that’s just been published on their website. It’s a very candid conversation that you’re encouraged to read. In it, Jackson talks Django Unchained, criticism of that movie, his feud with Spike Lee, his kinship with Quentin Tarantino, his militant youth, his politics today, his thoughts on Obama, his early career struggles on the theater circuit, and more.
He also mentions that there were some brutal scenes in Django Unchained, during which he tortured Django (Jamie Foxx), but which were left on the proverbial cutting room floor because they were so brutal to watch. He adds that he hopes Tarantino will eventually release those clips.
Some highlights from the Playboy piece…
On the argument against white filmmakers telling “black stories”:
There is this whole thing of “Nobody can tell our story but us,” but that’s apparently not true, because the Jackie Robinson movie finally got made as 42. Spike didn’t make it, but people still went to see it. When Boaz Yakin did Fresh in 1994, all of a sudden it was like, “Who is this Jewish motherfucker telling our stories?” He’s the Jewish motherfucker who wrote the story, that’s who. If you got a story like that in you, tell it. We’ll see when [director] Steve McQueen’s movie 12 Years a Slave comes out, if it’ll be like, “What’s this British motherfucker know about us?” Somebody’s always going to say something.
On criticism of Django Unchained, he calls out those black people whom he says feel the need to “wave a flag of blackness that they don’t necessarily have the credentials to wave,” singling out W. Kamau Bell as one example:
W. Kamau Bell’s FX show [Totally Biased With W. Kamau Bell] had this whole segment where he was criticizing Django. He’s a young black man with nappy hair and very dark skin, but he also has a very white wife and an interracial child. You can’t tell me you know what people in the South did if you never spent time down there. He can say there had to be words Quentin could use other than nigger. Well, what are they? These 20-somethings can’t turn around and tell me the word nigger is fucked-up in Django yet still listen to Jay Z or whoever else say “nigger, nigger, nigger” throughout the music they listen to. “Oh, that’s okay because that’s dope, that’s down, we all right with that.” Bullshit. You can’t have it one way and not the other. It’s art—you can’t not censor one thing and try to censor the other. Saying Tarantino said “nigger” too many times is like complaining they said “kike” too many times in a movie about Nazis.
On the violence in Django, and playing a villain:
Tarantino asked me to play the most hated Negro character in cinema history, but if people think they hate my character, they will really despise him if one day they get to see me torture Django. There are scenes on the cutting-room floor or in Quentin’s house or wherever that one of these days, hopefully, he’ll let people see. He literally could have Kill Billed that movie, because there is enough stuff for two two-and-a-half-hour movies. A Django Western and Django Southern would have been equally entertaining and great. I kept hoping he would do that. People said, “Well, slavery wasn’t a picnic,” and I want to say, “No, motherfucker, slavery wasn’t a picnic,” but nobody was singing songs while picking cotton in the field in that movie either. People got whipped. Dogs got sicced on people. These 20-year-olds and others are always talking about “Where’s my 40 acres and a mule? Where are my reparations?” Well, you wanna act like the government owes us reparations, we gotta show what they owe us for. Here it is, right here onscreen. These stories must be told. Yet they still want to turn around and go, “Fuck Quentin Tarantino, he don’t know shit about it,” but if Spike, the Hughes brothers or Carl Franklin had done it, it would have been right? Look, Quentin has this master storytelling ability, and a lot of criticism from a lot of people is straight bullshit jealousy because they can’t do it themselves.
On things he’d absolutely never do on screen, even for Tarantino:
Probably dress up as a woman and kiss another guy. I don’t think people want to see me do that. He hasn’t asked me, but you know what? If it’s done right and the story is good, I might.
And that’s just a sample, so head on over to Playboy magazine’s website and read the rest HERE. It’s Playboy, so it just might be NSFW, and may be something you would want to read at home, or in transit on your iPad.
Unless I just missed it, the Playboy interviewer didn’t ask him about Armond White’s recent criticism of his entire career, calling Jackson the “ultimate Uncle Tom.“