Sa­muel L Jack­son pestered di­rec­tor Shya­malan for a se­quel to ‘Un­break­able’

The National - News - - ARTS & LIFESTYLE - Claire Corkery

When di­rec­tor M Night Shya­malan de­cided to make a se­quel to his 2000 su­per­hero thriller Un­break­able, he knew one cast mem­ber would def­i­nitely be on board. Sa­muel L Jack­son has spent the past two decades pes­ter­ing Shya­malan about a fol­low-up, even stop­ping The Sixth Sense di­rec­tor in Los An­ge­les traf­fic to yell: “When we do­ing the se­quel?”

“I needed the cheque, I was broke,” Sa­muel L Jack­son said in Lon­don. “He [Shya­malan] promised us a se­quel. When we did Un­break­able he said this [is] part of a tril­ogy and then noth­ing hap­pened.”

While the fi­nan­cial in­cen­tive might have been a mo­ti­vat­ing fac­tor, Jack­son’s con­tin­ued com­mit­ment to repris­ing his role as vil­lain Eli­jah Price in

Glass came from his de­sire to give the char­ac­ter “clo­sure”. “I knew he [Eli­jah] had been locked up in that in­sti­tu­tion,” he said. “It was a mat­ter of fig­ur­ing out what was go­ing on while he was in there, what they were do­ing to him and how he was ma­nip­u­lat­ing them.”

Re­veal­ing Eli­jah Price as the crim­i­nal master­mind be­hind the train crash which gave David Dunn (played by Bruce Wil­lis) his su­per­hu­man pow­ers was the big twist at the end of Un­break­able. But ar­guably an even big­ger twist was to come in the sec­ond film in the tril­ogy, Split, which was re­leased in 2016. Star­ring James McAvoy as Kevin Wen­dell Crumb, aka “The Horde”, a man with 23 dif­fer­ent per­son­al­i­ties and a pen­chant for kid­nap­ping teenage girls, Split was never mar­keted as a se­quel to Un­break­able.

It wasn’t un­til the fi­nal scene when Wil­lis ap­pears in an un­cred­ited cameo that fans re­alised it was a fol­low-up.

Shya­malan in­vited Jack­son to see a screen­ing of Split, which at the end in­cludes a ref­er­ence to Mr Glass, the nick­name of his char­ac­ter Eli­jah in Un­break­able. “Sam came out and asked me ‘what does this mean?’” said Shya­malan. “And I replied ‘we’re mak­ing the movie’.”

In Glass, all three main char­ac­ters (The Horde, Eli­jah and David) end up at Raven Hill Me­mo­rial In­sti­tu­tion un­der the care of psy­chi­a­trist Dr El­lie Sta­ple, played by Sarah Paul­son.

Paul­son, who shot to fame in Ryan Mur­phy’s Amer­i­can

Hor­ror Story, jumped at the chance to work with Shya­malan. A huge fan of his pre­vi­ous work, she didn’t even read the script be­fore ac­cept­ing, in­stead say­ing yes after Shya­malan de­scribed the role. Luck­ily Mur­phy, who Paul­son cred­its for her as­tro­nom­i­cal rise over the past seven years, al­lowed her time off from projects to work on Glass. “I’m very lucky with Ryan in that he lets me out to work with other peo­ple,” she laughed.

McAvoy too was happy to reprise his role (or roles), and this time was more pre­pared for Shya­malan’s un­com­pro­mis­ing di­rect­ing style. “Night has got a pretty spe­cific way of work­ing,” McAvoy said. “He is re­ally pre­pared and has a strong point of view of what he wants. So even if you dis­agree it’s eas­ier to get go­ing.”

Shya­malan is adamant that the long-awaited Glass will be the fi­nal in­stal­ment in the film se­ries. “I have no in­ter­est in mak­ing the same movie again and again and again,” the di­rec­tor said. There are high ex­pec­ta­tions for the film’s re­lease as Un­break­able is con­sid­ered a cult clas­sic among su­per­hero movie fans.

Now re­garded as one of Shya­malan’s best films,

Un­break­able’s re­lease 19 years ago gar­nered mixed re­views. The di­rec­tor wanted to pro­mote the film as a comic book movie but was told by stu­dio di­rec­tors that this would at­tract a niche au­di­ence. In­stead its por­trayal as a psy­cho­log­i­cal thriller led to un­help­ful com­par­isons with his 1999 hit The

Sixth Sense, leav­ing re­view­ers dis­ap­pointed.

The ini­tial re­ac­tion weighed so much on Shya­malan that it took him al­most two decades to make a se­quel. “Why did it bother me so much that it took me 15 years to come back to it?” he said. “It was be­cause I was so hurt by their not un­der­stand­ing the thing I was try­ing to do. It was about me be­com­ing OK with my­self.”

Glass is in cin­e­mas across the UAE from Thurs­day

EPA

From left, Sa­muel L Jack­son, M Night Shya­malan, Sarah Paul­son and James McAvoy

Uni­ver­sal Pic­tures

Sa­muel L Jack­son, James McAvoy and Bruce Wil­lis star in M Night Shya­malan’s ‘Glass’

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