Seven Questions with Samuel L. Jackson
by Cheri Barner
After receiving critical raves for his debut performance in "Jungle Fever",
Samuel L. Jackson has gone on to be one of Hollywood's top players. With
roles in "A Time To Kill" and "Pulp Fiction", Jackson has dazzled audiences
with his versatility and intensity. In the film "Eve's Bayou", Jackson takes
on a new role, producing as well as acting.
"Eve's Bayou" chronicles the life of a Creole doctor and his children during
one summer when their lives change forever. Written in a Southern Gothic
style and shot in Louisiana backwater, the film is a stunning, yet
unsentimental look at the painful transition from girlhood to womanhood.
"Eve's Bayou" is a Trimark release opening today.
indieWIRE: What did you think of "Eve's Bayou" when you read the script?
Samuel Jackson: I liked it a lot, but at that time it was being shopped to
a lot of different places. When it came to me, I was interested in doing
it, but at the same time Danny Glover had it, and he was interested in
doing it. But he also wanted to direct it, and I don't think Kasi (Lemmons,
the writer/director) was willing to give that up. Eventually, my status got
to the point that they could attach my name to it and get it done.
iW: How has that change in status effected your choices of roles?
Jackson: I feel like I have the same challenges I faced a long time ago. I
still end up going in to convince people that I'm the actor that they want
for a job.
iW: Really? Don't you get scripts sent to you all the time?
Jackson: Yeah, but I turn down a lot of those. The things that I want to do
are the things [my agents] have to go in and fight for.
iW: But you do have a lot of clout in the industry, are you happy with how
your career has progressed?
Jackson: I had a certain naivete when I started out in college. I thought
I'd do plays in college, and learn how to act. I'd continue to do plays for
a while, then I would end up getting a television show. Then I'd probably
end up in the movies. Kind of like, starting in the mail room. Not knowing
that's not how it works. So you work for a while, and when the TV show
doesn't seem to be coming, you think, "I can do a soap for a while", and
when that doesn't happen you start saying, "If I could just get that one
national beer commercial..." (laughs) But you're always frustrated, I'm
frustrated right now because I don't know what my next job is. I'm doing a
film, and it's the last film that I know that I'm going to do. Like most
actors I tend to think that once this job is over, I'm never going to work
iW: Were you familiar with Kasi Lemmons before the film?
Jackson: Yeah. We knew each other from New York. We were all a part of the
theater, and roaming the streets together, and trying to get jobs. But I
hadn't realized she'd written a script until after I'd read it, and I went
back to find out who the writer was. I wondered if it was the same Kasi I'd
known - and it turned out to be.
iW: How did you come to produce the film?
Jackson: It's a pretty short story. They definitely didn't have the money
to pay my price, and one of the ways for me to end up with some money at
the end of it was to be a producer -- so that I could share in the profits.
Along with that, well, I didn't realize that I was actually going to end up
being a producer. When I got to the set, nobody else was there (acting as
producer), and I ended up being more of a hands on producer than an
executive producer. I ended up learning more than I actually intended to
iW: Has the experience made you want to produce more movies?
Jackson: Well, it is something that I will end up doing anyway, because I
have things in development that are mine, and I guess along with that comes
a producer's responsibilities. It was good that I learned (to produce), God
puts things in your path that you're gonna need sometimes.