'Avengers'' Samuel L. Jackson on Slavery Inspiring 'Django Unchained': 'We'll Deal With it Honestly' (Video)
The versatile actor and box office star talks about watching "Farewell Uncle Tom" for his role as a "house slave" in Quentin Tarantino's upcoming spaghetti-western homage, which is set in the antebellum South.
Thanks to roles in Jurassic Park, Pulp Fiction, the Star Wars prequels, and four Marvel movies (Iron Man 1 and 2, Thor and Captain America), Samuel L. Jackson is the highest-grossing actor of all time. But with an output that includes as many as four movies per year, his pedigree as a credible leading man and dramatic actor is just as impressive. And following his co-starring role in May’s superhero opus The Avengers, Jackson reunites with his longtime collaborator Quentin Tarantino for Django Unchained.
Playing a character described as a “house slave” in the writer-director’s western homage, Jackson told The Hollywood Reporter that the film draws as much from American history as from the many movies which inspire Tarantino’s work. “It’s definitely an opportunity to explore a place in my history that I hadn’t thought about, and deal with it in an honest and very dramatic way,” Jackson said Saturday. “[It’s] an opportunity to be with one of the most iconic filmmakers we’ve ever had, or in my lifetime.”
The film follows a slave (played by Jamie Foxx) who strikes a bargain with a bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz) to hunt down a pair of murderous brothers in exchange for his freedom -- and helping him find his wife (Kerry Washington), who's also a slave. One of the films which reportedly inspired Tarantino in the conception of Django Unchained was Farewell Uncle Tom (Addio Zio Tom), a 1971 pseudo-documentary in which directors Gualtiero Jacopetti and Franco Prosperi (Mondo Cane) go back in time and document the racist ideology of the American antebellum South. Hugely controversial because of its commitment to (perceived) accuracy in depicting the horrors of slavery, Prosperi and Jacopetti’s film is extremely difficult to watch. But Jackson said that watch it he did.
“Quentin pays homage to a lot of different genres,” Jackson said. “But it’s his take on those films. But it’s not like it’s something that’s not part of the fabric of this country -- and it happened.”
Watch the video above for Jackson’s comments about Django Unchained, which opens nationwide in theaters on December 25, 2012.