IN­TER­VIEW / REN­CON­TRER Sa­muel L. Jack­son

GREATER PARIS - - Sommaire - By Do­mi­tille Quen­tien

Sa­muel L. Jack­son needs no in­tro­duc­tion. He is an in­cre­dible cha­me­leon of an ac­tor, a pop culture icon and the last word in co­ol. From the works of Spike Lee to cult fa­vou­rite Pulp Fic­tion, and less-than-stel­lar B mo­vies to the le­gen­da­ry Star Wars sa­ga, the 68-year-old is more than a film star, he em­bo­dies the last 30 years of ci­ne­ma, and his ca­reer has com­bi­ned huge risks with pure mo­vie-going de­light. Meet the co­olest man in the world. You’ve re­cent­ly been pro­mo­ting I’m Not Your Ne­gro di­rec­ted by Raoul Peck. You did the voi­ceo­ver for this ex­cellent do­cu­men­ta­ry ba­sed on wri­tings by and in­ter­views with the black Ame­ri­can au­thor James Bald­win. As a film, it’s po­li­ti­cal­ly en­ga­ged but fun­ny too. Would you say it re­flects your own per­so­na­li­ty? I wouldn’t say it’s exact­ly a re­flec­tion of me, but I know James Bald­win has al­ways been ve­ry mea­ning­ful to me in a real­ly unique way. When I was youn­ger, he was one of the voices, which young Afri­can Ame­ri­cans lis­te­ned to and ad­mi­red the most. We owe a lot to him, like our free­dom to be our­selves, the idea of re­spon­ding in­tel­li­gent­ly to vio­lence, and our abi­li­ty to create a self-image not tain­ted by ra­cial pre­ju­dice. So it felt ve­ry na­tu­ral to pay back some of the strength and love this ama­zing man ins­til­led in me.

You’ve left your mark on ci­ne­ma over the past 30 years, wor­king with Quen­tin Ta­ran­ti­no, George Lu­cas, Spike Lee, Ste­ven Spiel­berg, Mar­tin Scor­sese, John Mc­tier­nan and Bar­bet Schroe­der. How do you at­tract all these great di­rec­tors? I don’t at­tract them, un­for­tu­na­te­ly. They’re great men, you have to woo them a lit­tle bit. I’ve of­ten been lu­cky en­ough to have things in com­mon with most of the di­rec­tors I’ve wor­ked with. I share a slight­ly twis­ted sense of hu­mour with Quen­tin [Ta­ran­ti­no] for ins­tance, we both love bad jokes that make eve­ryone feel awk­ward. You pre­mie­red I’m Not Your Ne­gro in Pa­ris last sum­mer. If you were to make a film set in Pa­ris, whe­rea­bouts would you like to film? The next Nick Fu­ry film, Aven­gers: In­fi­ni­ty War, has quite a few scenes in Pa­ris, we fil­med at the Saint Sul­pice church, Tro­ca­dé­ro and the [Ave­nue des] Champs-ely­sées for example. Eve­ry mor­ning when I got in a taxi to go to the set I went past the An­dré Ci­troën Park near the ri­ver­side and the Grand Pa­lais. It’s such a beau­ti­ful place. I’d love to just wan­der around there.

You be­came a glo­bal star in 1994 with the mad­cap role of Jules Winn­field, the ser­mon-spou­ting killer in cult clas­sic Pulp Fic­tion. A role like that stays with you for life, right? It’s true that 20 years la­ter, Jules is still fol­lo­wing me around, god­damn him, eve­ry­bo­dy’s in­to him, other ac­tors, fans, di­rec­tors, my daugh­ter… Eve­ryone wants to talk to me about Jules and Pulp Fic­tion. Am I com­plai­ning about it? Ab­so­lu­te­ly not. I’m in­cre­di­bly lu­cky to have been able to touch mil­lions of people’s hearts, minds and ima­gi­na­tions through this cha­rac­ter. In fact, he might even be clo­ser to me than I thought.

You’re ci­ne­ma’s co­olest ac­tor, even when you’re playing bad­dies. How do you stay so co­ol and re­laxed all the time? It comes down to constant trai­ning. It’s about ta­king life as it comes, being nice to people and gi­ving out good vibes, being cu­rious, and lau­ghing. That’s been my me­di­cine for more than 60 years. You can see it’s paid off, right?

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