Samuel L. Jackson is clarifying controversial statements he made about black British actors starring in American-made movies.
During a recent interview with New York City radio station Hot 97, Jackson said he thought Jordan Peele’s racially charged directorial debut Get Out — which debuted at No. 1 at the domestic box office in February — should have starred an American actor instead of London-born Sicario performer Daniel Kaluuya.
Speaking to the Associated Press at Wednesday’s premiere of Kong: Skull Island, Jackson noted that while his quote wasn’t exactly misunderstood by the public, he meant to critique the system that allows international performers to take starring roles in American productions.
“It was not a slam against them, but it was just a comment about how Hollywood works in an interesting sort of way sometimes,” the Oscar nominee said.
Jackson went on to compliment his British peers’ skills in front of the camera, though he said the act of placing Brits in American-made roles doesn’t benefit both parties.
“We’re not afforded that same luxury, but that’s fine, we have plenty of opportunities to work,” he explained. “I enjoy their work. I enjoy working with them when I have the opportunity to do that.”
“That’s a whole other story,” the 68-year-old previously responded when asked about Get Out during his Hot 97 discussion. “I think it’s great that that movie is doing everything it’s doing, and people are loving it and they’re feeling it … but the thing in my mind is, I know the young brother who’s in the movie, and he’s British. There are a lot of black British actors that work in this country. All the time. I tend to wonder what would that movie have been with an American brother who really understands that in a way. Because Daniel grew up in a country where they’ve been interracial dating for a hundred years. Britain, there’s only about eight real white people left in Britain. … So what would a brother from America made of that role? I’m sure the director helped. Some things are universal, but everything ain’t.”
He also cited Ava DuVernay’s casting of Oxford native David Oyelowo as civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. in her 2014 best picture nominee Selma as another example of British actors starring in American films.
“There are some brothers in America who could have been in that movie who would have had a different idea about how King thinks or how King felt,” he said.
Jackson’s comments drew intense online criticism earlier this week, with Star Wars: The Force Awakens star John Boyega, who was born in the U.K., addressing the matter Tuesday on Twitter.
“Black brits vs African American. A stupid ass conflict we don’t have time for,” Boyega wrote.
Kong: Skull Island opens in theaters nationwide Friday, March 10.