Samuel L. Jackson looks back on his prolific career — just don't call him a legend
The actor shares which of his movies he still watches and why the haters from Hateful Eight is the "strongest cinematic connection" he's ever had.
In conversation with EW's Sarah Rodman for a virtual panel at the annual festival, the Oscar-nominated actor says it's "amazing and serendipitous" to be honored by the Georgia confab because he started his cinematic career in the state, but being called a legend "disturbs" him. "Legends are people who accomplish things that can’t be accomplished by other people, or did something that’s super extraordinary," he says, adding, "I just persevered through hard work and doggedness to get where I am."
To date, Jackson has starred in over 150 films, including Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, The Hateful Eight, Django Unchained, Black Snake Moan, several Marvel movies, and many, many more. As for which ones he will sit down and rewatch? He says it's Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, One Eight Seven, Coach Carter, or Deep Blue Sea, but only if he's "channel surfing and can't find anything."
Between Quentin Tarantino's films and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Jackson has worked with many of the same collaborators over the years, but he says there is one cast in particular he has a strong bond with. "The haters from Hateful Eight, we have a chain where we still text each other every week to say where are you, what are you doing, or we’re commenting on the political situation. That’s the strongest cinematic connection I’ve ever had," he says.
And though he'd been working steadily for many years before nabbing the part of Jules Winnfield in Pulp Fiction alongside John Travolta, he says it wasn't until 1995's Die Hard With a Vengeance that he gained international recognition. Jackson recalls being in Tokyo when he first noticed it. "You don't understand it until you’re out there in the world and you’re in a place where you don't expect people to know who you are," he says, explaining that the recognition didn't bother him. "I kind of needed it, wanted it, and relished it in another kind of way because that’s what movie stardom is," he says.
Jackson says he still to this day enjoys going to see his movies with an audience. "I love movies. I don’t have that bulls--- thing of, 'Oh my god, I can’t stand to watch myself on screen!' Well, get another job, because that’s what it is, it’s a look-at-me business," he says.
During the nearly hour-long conversation, Jackson also reminisces about his time in theater school and the lessons he learned, and he discusses the differences between L.A. and N.Y., how his process of choosing roles has changed over time, the point at which he went from being “black famous" to "mainstream famous,” which of his movies people approach him about the most, and the importance of voting.
Watch Jackson's full interview in the video above.
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