Samuel L. Jackson is plenty familiar with how he’s been typecast in his four-decade-plus career. During the Universal Pictures presentation at San Diego Comic-Con Friday, the actor explained why he wanted to reprise his “Split” character, Elijah Price/Mr. Glass, in writer-director M. Night Shyamalan’s upcoming trilogy-closer, “Glass.”
“I just loved the complexity of Elijah,” began Oscar-nominated Jackson (“Pulp Fiction”), wearing a purple t-shirt featuring Price in a wheelchair. “I love that he has his mom that understands and knows who he is. I love that he’s an extremely strong character who has a really fragile body…and that he has a belief that’s stronger than anything anyone can take from him. So I just love being him. And he’s quiet. It’s unusual to see — I don’t actually play the same motherfucker all the time! I like the loud ones, yes.”
Jackson and co-stars Bruce Willis, Sarah Paulson, and Anya Taylor-Joy joined Shyamalan for a Hall H panel, moderated by Yvette Nicole Brown (“Community”). Not present was James McAvoy, whose “Split” and “Glass” alter-ego, Kevin Wendell Crumb, possesses 24 separate personalities. “I feel bad that James is not here because he has that Robin Williams ability to go into other characters with full empathy,” said Shyamalan, noting that although McAvoy is shooting a project in Canada, what kept him away was the fact that he is currently “really, really sick” with “something super serious.”
The most succinct panelist was Shyamalan’s “big brother, the first guy who believed in me and really gave me a chance,” Willis. “I really can’t share anything,” confirmed the “Die Hard” icon and Jackson’s fellow “Pulp Fiction” castmate. “But” — his voice rose with each of the following words — “there are a lot of secrets in this movie that have not been exposed!”
Returning to Comic-Con was a surreal experience for Shyamalan. When the franchise’s first film, “Unbreakable,” came out in 2000, he found the “mixed reaction to the movie” to be “disheartening, a little bit, because I was thinking that this would be a really cool thing: a thriller comic-book movie.”
Disney’s marketing team had even told him in a pre-release conference call, “‘We can’t mention the word ‘comic books’ or ‘superheroes,’ because it’s too fringe, and it’s those people that go to those conventions…And I was like, ‘Oh.’ ‘We’re just going to avoid mentioning that in the campaign.’ So I was like, ‘But that’s what the movie is.’ It was one of those weird moments of kind of feeling like the subject that I was making, would that be interesting to the broader population?”
According to the rousing reception the “Glass” trailer received, absolutely.
Universal Pictures will debut “Glass” on January 18, 2019.