Samuel L. Jackson: ‘When I hear ‘Make America Great Again,’ I hear something else’


Samuel L. Jackson has two big movies coming out in the coming weeks and months. He’s got the sequel to Unbreakable, Glass, coming out this month, then in March, he’s got a big role in Captain Marvel. In Captain Marvel, he goes back to the ‘90s with makeup and CGI, although who can even tell? He’s 70 years old, and he can play anyone from the age of 40 to 90. What I like about Sam is that he never oversaturates the market, nor does he tell the same four anecdotes over and over. His interviews are always stand-alone and interesting, and this Hollywood Reporter cover story is no different. You can read the full piece here. Some highlights:

On relating to non-pacifist Black activists, like H. Rap Brown and Stokely Carmichael, over Martin Luther King: “It was easier for me to side with their ideology [than with King’s], or understand that ‘violence is as American as cherry pie,’ as Brown put it. That made sense to me, you know? Somebody hits you, you hit them back.”

On 2019 politics: “When I hear ‘Make America Great Again,’ I hear something else. When I see the president and Mitch McConnell and Jeff Sessions going on with that twang, that’s a trip in memory hell. And that does anger me.”

On why he chose to play a crack addict in Jungle Fever after overcoming his addiction: “All the people in rehab were trying to talk me out of it. ‘You’re going to be messing around with crack pipes. All your triggers will be there. Blah, blah, blah.’ I was like, ‘You know what? If for no other reason than I never want to see you motherfuckers again, I will never pick up another drug.’ ’Cause I hated their asses.”

On Pulp Ficton: “It’s the kind of movie that every year, I gain 3, 4 million new fans because kids get old enough to see it for the first time. They think it’s the coolest thing they’ve ever f–kin’ seen in their lives.”

On his willingness to play Nick Fury well into his 80s (if Marvel can afford him): He’s already wrapped Spider-Man: Far From Home (opening July 5) and would happily play the part into his 80s. “I could be the Alec Guinness of Marvel movies,” he suggests. His quote has certainly gone up since he signed his original deal in 2008 (he was paid $5 million to star in 2017’s Kong: Skull Island, according to sources with knowledge of the deal, on the strength of his international appeal, and more for Glass). From here on, salary negotiations could get a lot more interesting with the famously thrifty company. Says Jackson: “I’m a gunslinger now.”

[From The Hollywood Reporter]

“When I hear ‘Make America Great Again,’ I hear something else.” Me too, Sam. Me too. I hear “Hi, I’m a Nazi” or “I believe white folks are superior” or “I’m an idiot who voted for a bigger idiot.” I guess I didn’t realize that Sam was drawn to the more militant aspects of the Civil Rights Movement, but it makes sense. And I’m glad that Sam is getting paid, big time – Marvel is so stingy, but Sam is sometimes the best part of those films.

The Duke of Sussex and Duchess of Sussex at a welcome ceremony in Wellington

Photos courtesy of Brian Bowen Smith for The Hollywood Reporter, sent from promotional THR email.

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34 Responses to “Samuel L. Jackson: ‘When I hear ‘Make America Great Again,’ I hear something else’”

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  1. Frida_K says:

    “When I hear ‘Make America Great Again,’ I hear something else.”

    Right there with you, good sir, right there with you. (And just as angry and unwilling to bow to it as you are, too, by the way).

    • BlueSky says:

      Sam is the around the same age as my late father who grew up during segregation. He participated in the civil right movement and would fight back. I remember his stories of the Klan riding on horseback, being arrested in GA for eating in a white restaurant. I am with Sam in that what most people don’t understand. MAGA triggers memories of segregation, lynchings, etc. I now understand why it’s so upsetting and unsettling to me.

    • Famika says:

      I agree with Samuel Jackson.
      That slogan is dog whistle to deplorables.

  2. minx says:

    I’m with him on this, and I’m as white as you can get.

    • Katy says:

      I’m with him too – that’s all I hear when I hear that STUPID, ARCHAIC slogan!!! I’m as white as you get and so is my husband….and we’re aged 🙂 In our America this kind of BS should have been gone and buried long, long ago. White people should look back with disgust for actions of their ancestors! I guess I was living under a rock or something but even my own sister and brother-in-law have come out as total ignorant assholes. Never new it until the orange pig-f@%k came into all of our lives.

    • whatWHAT? says:

      me too, and I’m one of the whitest people you’d meet.

      I LOVE THIS MAN, by the way. I love the way he drops the f-bomb so easily, because I do too. he’s such a brilliant actor, too.

      one of the funniest promos I’ve ever seen was the one he did for his hosting job at some awards show…maybe the MTV movie awards? he was talking about how people think he’s mean and scary because of the roles he’s played, but then says “I’m the nicest MF-er out there” (except, of course, he said the actual word which they bleeped). I STILL quote that.

  3. JRenee says:

    I can definitely see him as non-pacifist. Now pay the man for his acting contributions.

    • Tiffany says:

      RIGHT ???!!! I cannot believe that he only got $5 million for Skull Island. That number feels hella low.

  4. Case says:

    I was just at an event where a wonderful speaker said “The question in our country today is not whether we are great, it’s whether or not we can be good.” It made me so emotional, because it was right on point. I don’t want us to be great, I want us to be good. Good people who are good to each other and respect each other. The president doesn’t value goodness, only greatness.

  5. Lala11_7 says:

    It’s too bad folks can’t see “Eye on the Prize…” that SEMINAL 14-part series about the Civil Rights movement that came out in 1987 on PBS…you can’t really buy it or see it anywhere…because the producers were dodgy with a LOT of the content clearances…

    That series really explained EVERYTHING about the Civil Rights movement…from its inception…and what folks fail to realize is that for EACH Black person back in the day that loved and revered Dr. King…there was another Black person who LOVED him as a human being…but DETESTED his civil rights ideologies…AND they detested the way that Dr. King sought out allies from the White power structure…and they also detested King’s stance on integration….I myself was raised in a household that focused on Marcus Garvey and the Black Panther Party…

    If you can find the series in your public library…take a look at it…it is MAGNIFICENT!

    • a reader says:

      Thanks for the recommendation Lala. I swear that sounds familiar to me (80s kid who grew up on PBS)…. I have written this title down and will be checking at my local library.

    • Nicole says:

      Truth. PBS used to play it every February for black history month. It does appear to be for sale in DVD format on PBS’s website.

    • Jerusha says:

      That’s interesting. I have the entire set as well as the accompanying book. I first bought it for my school library, then bought it for myself. My school was 100% minority(yeah, they still exist)and it was astonishing how many kids weren’t aware of the struggles their grandparents went through. EVERYONE, all races need to be aware of that history. I started college in 1962 in Alabama, just outside B’ham. I participated(as a small cog)in some of the events that occured there. At that time I really thought we were changing hearts and minds and making a better world. I was so naive. White blindness, I suppose. POCs knew the hatred festering underneath and it took just one malignant figurehead to unleash it.

      • Veronica S. says:

        I really cannot stress to people how important educating people about the truth of American history is – especially those of us who are WHITE need to honor and acknowledge it, however ugly it may be. My mother didn’t know about the sharecropping/vagrancy labor slave laws in the early 1900s until a few years back. I knew about them from being an apt reader, but she literally had never learned about the exploitative origins of the prison industrial complex until her fifties. I came home to find her crying about it one day, and she couldn’t stop talking about afterwards how she never realized just how evil America was to minorities.

        Now granted, my mother was never “racist,” per se, but she was certainly part of that apathetic white community that supported civil rights as a general idea without really understanding the complexity of the issue here. After watching that documentary, it completely changed her perspective on race on America and she took pains to inform herself more about the issue and support measures to change things. It’s remarkable how something as simple as a documentary can completely alter your perspective on things. Imagine the impact of that empathy and compassion on a wider scale if our history books stopped sanitizing the reality.

      • Nana says:

        @Jerusha and @Veronica, so true. This is probably why history repeats itself over and over – we do need to teach younger generations better about our struggles and the struggles of our parents and grandparents etc…
        It’s as true in my country Australia, as it is in yours (look up ‘The Bringing Them Home’ report, and/or ‘The Stolen Generations’). It’s encouraging to me the number of young white people – who do know about the history of colonisation here and the impact it’s still having today, but equally as saddening the number who don’t know or reject the experience of Aboriginal people altogether, MAGA style. Also, alot of younger Aboriginal people don’t know their own history because their parents and grandparents, aunts, uncles and elders etc never shared their stories out of fear, grief and trauma.

        When I hear MAGA, what I really hear is make America white again. And when I hear Australian deplorables regurgitating it here, it’s translates in the same way.

    • Ksquared says:

      You can stream it on Kanopy!

    • Veronica S. says:

      The image of MLK has also been horrifically sanitized by the American public so he’s more easily digestible to the white public. King was very calculating about how he approached the white power structure. He knew exactly what he had to do to play the game, and he made PLENTY of critical commentaries about the inherent racism of the American economic structure and white “moderates” that are curiously absent from most history books. What you’ve got in classrooms today resembles the real man about as much as a stuffed bear resembles a grizzly.

  6. Jess says:

    Love him, love what he says about f’in MAGA, and love him as Nick Fury – definitely one of the best parts of the Marvel Universe. He’s another example of how people of color have to put in more time to become successes in Hollywood, and I can’t imagine the crap he’s seen along the way (I’m still ticked he got put up for a supporting actor nom for Pulp Fiction while very “problematic” Travolta got put up for best actor), so he deserves all the money! And quick plug for an old movie of his – I love him and Geena Davis in The Long Kiss Goodnight!

  7. Maya says:

    Love him and everything he stand for..

  8. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    “Make America Great Again,” angers me, and I hear something entirely different as well. Obviously, as a white woman, my triggers hardly compare, but I see oceans of crazy white people creating obscene waves of human excrement. What a vision to fly a crop duster over the insects. Did I just say that out loud lol? I meant juice the air with high doses of lithium. No?

    I remember reading one of Sam’s interviews (we’re tight) where he said throughout his career he never turned down a role (I typed roll lmao). Like ever. He said he was so happy to simply have offers he accepted all of them. It worked. He’s done so many shows, his resume is fat and now he gets to choose.

  9. Sam the Pink says:

    I hear MAGA and I think it means returning to a time in history when marriages like mine were against the law, children like mine were outcasts, professions like mine were closed off to women, etc. It’s a reaction from an older, less tolerant time.

    • Mel M says:

      Me too, I’m white (half Latina) but identify as white really because my Latina mother didn’t really raise my sister and I with anything Latin. Except for the words chancla and cállate. Anyway, I hear that and it just makes me think of old white men that want to get back to the Mad Men way of life. It also blows my mind and saddens me that my white father and Latina mother support this garbage human in the White House. My mom must have a lot of internal self hate for both being a woman and Latina because she’s also said that that BS grab them by the pu$$& was just locker room talk. That’s when I really started to get an idea of how my parents though because I had never seen them as those people.

    • Veronica S. says:

      On the extras for “The Incredibles,” Jackson talks about being drawn to the character of Frozone because comic book characters represented incredible freedom and opportunity he didn’t have as a boy growing up under segregation. That was a real “holy sh*t” moment that put it into perspective just how young civil rights really are – and how dangerously easy it would be to backslide.

  10. Lightpurple says:

    I LOVE this man. I love his zest for life. I love that he has been married to the same woman for nearly 40 years. I love the charity work he does. I loved the delightful selfies he posts on his Instagram page. I love that his movie contracts include a rider that he gets to play golf. I love his openness and willingness to talk about the challenges he has faced in life: going to segregated schools; being raised by his grandparents; stuttering; his addiction- so that others might learn. Samuel L. Jackson is a national treasure. And I need him and Michael Shannon to do a film of just the two of them talking about the world for two hours over coffee.

  11. adastraperaspera says:

    I read Samuel L. Jackson’s twitter account any time I feel down about what the MAGAs are doing to this country. He tells it like it is!

  12. Veronica S. says:

    The most underappreciated actor of his generation, tbh. I have no idea how people fell all over themselves feeling bad for Leonardo DiCaprio’s Oscar losses when Samuel L. Jackson has been out there doing twice as much with half as many opportunities and has only ONE Oscar nom to his name.

  13. BeanieBean says:

    There is no time in the American past we should return to; none whatsoever. I’m with SLJ on this. And he’s 70? Wowzers!

  14. CairinaCat says:

    I adore him and he deserves ALL the awards
    And ALL the money

    I went to the theater to see snakes on a plane because he refused to let them change the title.
    And I HATE snakes

  15. Tiffany :) says:

    I totally agree with him about the MAGA stuff. When I see the hats, it puts me into fight or flight mode.

    Last night, I ordered delivery and the driver was walking to my door with a red hat with white lettering. My heart sank and I felt nauseous…and then as he got closer I realized it said “GrubHub” aka the delivery service. LOL, silly me.

  16. CairinaCat says:

    I hate hate hate the maga crap
    I’m whiter than white, and Trump as president has let me see just how much of my family are racist pieces of s*it
    He gave people who apparently hid it pretty well permission to come out in the open

  17. Abbess Tansy says:

    I adore Sam, he reminds me so much of my late father. It actually hurt to read the article because I still miss my dad.

  18. holly hobby says:

    Wow he’s 70!?!? He looks the same age as pulled and stuffed Bradley Cooper! I really like reading his interviews. He actually says more than the pap drivel other celebs give out.

  19. Bobby Stop says:

    ‘Scuse me… when wasn’t America great? and getting better all the time ’til that oragne assohle showed up on scene.

    Frigging d-list (possibly “e”) TV celebrity (and I use even the joke-jargon celebrity loosely) pretending to be running anything but a way to line his pockets.