Samuel L. Jackson: “At Tarantino, we talk, we talk, and when we’re done we shoot each other”

Meet the first of Salopards de Quentin Tarantino.

Update June 6, 2020: We had met Samuel L. Jackson for the release of Eight of bastards by Quentin Tarantino. We are recommending this interview on the occasion of the film’s first unscrambled broadcast this Sunday at 8:55 p.m. on Arte.

Article of January 2, 2016: Les 8 Salopards marks your sixth collaboration with Quentin Tarantino. How does it work, exactly? Does he warn you from the start that he is writing for you?
No, only he knows. I don’t hear about it until the screenplay is finished. He never calls me to say, “Hey, I’m writing this stuff for you. “I know he does it with certain people, whom he phones to read script passages to them, but I don’t.

Why ? Is he afraid of you?
No, I think he wants to be completely self-confident before he makes me read. He usually shows me the second version of the script, in which the character he plans to entrust to me is clearly defined.

So, are you still satisfied?
Not always, no. I would have preferred to play Django, for example. So I was a little disappointed, even if Stephen (the butler of Leonardo DiCaprio in Django Unchained) was a great role to play.

And different from your usual roles …
It is true. But I never played Django either. I am rarely allowed to be the hero.

Shaft, all the same…
Yes you are right. And it must be recognized that Stephen was relatively complex and ambiguous garbage. As an actor, I no longer have to “lie” when it comes to embodying a villain and making his motivations believable than if I were this heroic guy who just has to save the widow and the orphan.

The criticism of the 8 Salopards

With his characters trapped in a hut in the middle of a blizzard, Les 8 Salopards once again fueled the dialogues …
It’s a Quentin Tarantino film, so yes, it’s chattering a lot: we talk, we talk, and when we’re done, we shoot each other. (To laugh.)

Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Kurt Russell, you … The cast is like a Tarantino All-Star.
There are a few regulars. Some of us have already been on screen together, like Tim and I in pulp Fiction, but I had never shot with Mike (Madsen), for example. So there are new combinations. And new faces, like Jennifer Jason Leigh, even if it felt like she had always been part of the troupe.

Many people would pay to discover the kind of atmosphere that reigned on the set.
And they would be right: on a Tarantino film, the back side of the scene is almost more interesting than what happens in front of the camera. There would be a second film to make each time, if only by capturing the stories that Quentin tells between takes. Electronic devices are prohibited on the shelf – no laptops, iPads, computers, nothing. When Quentin says “cut”, in general, the sound engineer swings one of the songs that will be on the soundtrack all the way down and everyone starts dancing and singing. Then, Quentin begins to replay a scene from a film that inspired him for the sequence that we are shooting, obviously specifying who wrote it, when and how in the smallest details. Every day we were treated to our private lesson in film history.

… in a setting transformed into a giant fridge.
Yes. To stay in the Colorado outdoor vibe, the studio we shot in was refrigerated, around zero degrees. We drank a lot of tea to survive. I worked in more pleasant conditions, but I cannot deny that the result gains in authenticity, it undeniably colors your performance. Even if you want to kill team members who are warm in their down jackets while you freeze them.

How would you describe the character you play in Les 8 Salopards ?
Major Warren? He is a former slave who became a Union soldier during the American Civil War, even if it is not really known whether he committed himself to defend freedom and justice or because it offered him a good excuse for kill a maximum of whites … In short, once the war ended, he was struck off the army. He has converted to a bounty hunter, and his own head has been priced by the Confederates for having decimated countless of them. But so far, no one has been able to reap the premium.

5 films to have before the 8 Salopards, by Quentin Tarantino

After playing in more than 150 films, being devoured on the screen by a dinosaur and a giant shark, played roles ranging from junkie to President of the United States, facing snakes on a plane, the pleasure you take in exercising this craft seems miraculously intact. What’s the secret ?
It’s simple: I love making movies. Cinema remains for me an entertainment industry. I’m not here to take the lead wondering how I’m going to get an Oscar before the end of my career. When I read the script of a film that I would have liked to see when I was a kid, or that I would have wanted to see today, I do not see what would stop me from saying yes.

You are also one of the rare actors to have never made a long film or released an album …
Why do you want to realize when I can hang out in my dressing room between sockets? I never felt that desire, never felt the need to control things to this extent.

We can still imagine the frustration that an actor must feel when leaving his performance in the hands of the editor and director, right?
Cinema belongs to the director, it will never change. I do not have this problem of frustration, because I have acquired over the years an experience which allows me, when a director says to me after several takes: “Ok, Sam, now try to play it in such a way To contradict him if I don’t feel it. I know where I’m going with the character, I know point A, point B, and how to get from one to the other. Besides, the editors love me and tell me regularly: “Your game is exactly the same from one take to another. It’s awesome ! “

Where does such assurance come from?
Probably from those long years of theater before I was given film roles. Each evening, you recite a text from the first to the last page, you must have this global vision of the play. I approach the script of a film in the same way, with the same application. This is all the more essential when you shoot scene 42 one day and scene 3 the next day, as is almost always the case. I make it a point of honor to constantly know where I am, it saves me from asking silly questions to the director who, in return, will not have to improvise answers that he does not have .

Looking back, would you say that your late hatching at the movies, after your 40th birthday, turned out to be a blessing?
Without a doubt. I was more mature, more intelligent. Even more important: I was sober. I don’t know how I would have handled what success suddenly puts at your disposal if I hadn’t solved my alcohol addiction problem. Everyone talks about the dream of becoming a movie star, but the truth is that nobody really knows what it all means, decadence, temptations, the excesses that await you on the other side and that nothing only prepared you. My luck, being older, was to be able to welcome things with humility. To simply appreciate the new opportunities, the choices that were offered to me and to show up on time on set by knowing my lines.

Les 8 Salopards to be released in theaters on January 6

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