In an interview with the actor in Beijing, China, Jackson talks candidly about playing his bigger-than-life Marvel character, Nick Fury.
Samuel L. Jackson, 66, has played the mysterious character Nick Fury in six Marvel movies now but he is far from being bored of it all. In fact, he is ready to get back to work and start shooting the highly anticipated Avengers: Age Of Ultron, which is slated for a release next year.
Jackson had a chat with reporters earlier this week in Beijing, China, where he and cast mates Scarlett Johansson and Chris Evans, as well as directors Joe and Anthony Russo, promoted their latest film together, Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
How would you describe Nick Fury?
Nick Fury is a master manipulator, that's what he does. He's an ordinary guy inside of this spectacular world, who seems to have a way of making extraordinary people bend to his will. Most times that involves him telling some lies.
Like he says (in the movie), he compartmentalises everything, so he goes 'you do that, they do that, I know how to hold puzzle pieces together; you just do your part.' It's fun for me to be able to do those things.
How do you think he has evolved throughout the years in all the different Marvel movies he's appeared in?
He didn't evolve so much as they've given him more to do, really. He's always been 'that guy'. In Iron Man, he shows up and goes, 'you're Iron Man I want you to be part of the Avengers Initiative.'
In Iron Man 2, he says, 'I'm not so sure we want you to be part of this anymore. You're a little reckless.'
In Thor, well he's finding out about the Tesseract and all these other things and in Captain America, there he is waking this guy up saying, 'we want you to be part of S.H.I.E.L.D, I know you don't know what that is, but you will!'
Then all of a sudden in Avengers, he's got them all together and he's trying to get the Avengers Initiative going so there he is manipulating everyone again. telling lies here and there.
And now (in The Winter Soldier), we actually find him at work, being Nick Fury. He's coming in to work at S.H.I.E.L.D, that's where Captain America works, where Black Widow works and a few other people we all know about. You see his boss (Alexander Pierce, played by Robert Redford) and everyone else. So as much as this is a Captain America movie, this is also a S.H.I.E.L.D movie.
Did you ever ask Marvel why it took them so long to show this side of Nick Fury?
I don't ask them anything, I just don't want them to kill me! Actors get very quiet when things start to happen (in movie franchises) because they don't want their characters to die. It's the same thing I used to do on Star Wars (where he played Mace Windu in three films) - I just show up and keep quiet.
Do you see a bit of yourself in Nick Fury?
Well, he's tall, I'm tall. He's black, I'm black... he's brave, I'm not. He's losing weight, I am too, thank you.
Every character has a little bit of you, in some way or another. You have to play them in a way that makes sense and is honest to you. I'm a bit cynical and a bit suspicious of everybody like he is, although I am not as mistrustful of people as he is.
Is it hard to act with an eye patch?
You only need one eye to act. One eye, one leg, one arm... I didn't discover - until Nick Fury had more stuff to say - that you literally have to learn your lines with one eye closed because your mind processes the information differently with two eyes than one. If you learn your lines with two eyes and then you have to close one eye to act, half the page disappears. I'm serious!
What's it like acting with pretty much the same people in so many films?
We like each other. We spend a lot of time together in different places, we're not just together on set but we go out together, eat together, we hang out - we enjoy each other's company. And it's great to get back in the saddle and hang out even more.
A lot of times, like in this movie, you know, we're the kids who run the playground. The Russo brothers are the new kids on the block. They come in and we have our costumes on and we're all looking at them and they've got to convince us that we want to play with them.
So who's Robert Redford in this 'playground', then?
Robert Redford's this old dude...
Robert Redford is a guy who lends his credibility in a way to this movie, you know what I mean? I respect him. I followed his movies before I got to Hollywood and I am impressed by the work that he did, and still does. That worked greatly for me when we were doing our scenes together - he was my boss and Nick kind of looked up to him and they used to do all these things together.
And (as an actor) he was great, he came in and fell right into the groove. Scarlett knew him too because she worked with him when she was just a kid on the Horse Whisperer.