If nothing else positive comes from Spike Lee‘s remake of “Oldboy,” it can at least boast the director’s reunion with his former frequent collaborator, Samuel L. Jackson. After a string of offerings including “School Daze,” “Do The Right Thing,” and “Jungle Fever,” the two men fell out publicly, and up until last year’s controversy surrounding Quentin Tarantino‘s “Django Unchained,” the relationship wasn’t looking to improve. But in a new interview with Playboy magazine, Jackson reveals the reason behind his reunion with Lee, and also provides a hint of more ‘Django’ on the cutting room floor.
Jackson is of course on the record as being one of the most public and passionate fans of Park Chan-Wook‘s original “Oldboy,” confirming in the new interview that he watches the film “eight, nine times a year.” But when it came to putting aside past differences with Lee for the remake, it started with the goodwill begun by the significant others of both men. “[Our] wives would interact often, and we would all end up going to dinner together,” he said. “Our relationship healed over those dinners and conversations. He told me at dinner he was going to remake ‘Oldboy’, and I was like, ‘Can I be in it?’ “
Lee told Jackson that he could have any part but the lead, played by Josh Brolin, but Jackson was fine with his villainous role, saying he “always wanted to be the crazy guy who runs the place where the main guy gets locked up and isolated.” And as for stepping back into a working relationship with Lee, Jackson says it “was just like we’d never stopped. He’s very efficient, knows what he wants and doesn’t get in my way artistically–whatever I come with, I come with, and it’s cool.”
Aside from discussing his mended relationship with Lee, Jackson also defends Tarantino from the tidal wave of debate surrounding ‘Django,’ its subject matter, and the n-words uttered along the way. Jackson explores the issue of “credentials,” permission, and Tarantino’s branding as a “wigger”, but comes to one main conclusion: “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.”
Part of that storytelling ability evidently called for even more brutality in ‘Django’ too, as Jackson reveals that, “He literally could have ‘Kill Bill‘ed 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.” Some of those excised sequences include stretches of Jackson’s character torturing Django (Jamie Foxx), which you can read more about here.
Who knows if that footage will come to light in a “Whole Bloody Affair”-esque package, but in the meantime, check out the Playboy interview for more with the always insightful and entertaining actor.