Samuel L. Jackson has been the king of Hollywood’s box office for five decades and, surprisingly, has never won a single Oscar. Of course, Jackson received an honorary Oscar at this year’s Academy Awards ceremony. Despite his success and dominance in the industry, he did not always dream of becoming an actor. The Marvel veteran spoke about this in an interview, explaining how he ended up in the entertainment business, despite the fact that he never dreamed of entering it after he signed a contract.
The Oscar winner made an unexpected revelation during an interview with Deadline. Samuel L. Jackson mentioned that he grew up listening to the radio, sharing stories with his grandfather and having an active imagination instead of watching TV. His only interaction with visual media took place on Saturdays, when he spent whole days watching cartoons and TV series in the cinema. He admired movie thugs like Burt Lancaster and Errol Flynn, but despite all this, he did not see a future in the film industry. The “Spider-Man: Far from Home” actor told how growing up in the segregated south of America limited his opportunities, although he still got a little spark thanks to a family member:
Imagining that you wanted to be on screen or be a movie star was like, no, it was crazy. I grew up in segregation, you know, there was no such thing… It never occurred to me that I could become a movie star, although from time to time I watched Sidney Poitier on the screen. It just wasn’t in the realm of possibility. It wasn’t something to aspire to. It was a pipe dream. No one has ever told me that I can be who I am now. People told me that I could be a doctor, a lawyer, an Indian chief or something else. You know, no one told me I could be this thing. I only discovered this because I lived in a house with a woman, my aunt, who was a theater teacher, and every time she needed to act in a play, competition or something else, I lived with her in the house. So, since I was three years old, she has been giving me things. I understood the applause, I understood how people pinch your cheek… and it made me feel good.
Growing up in isolation, apparently, from the very beginning cast a realistic look at the acting aspirations of the “Mine” star (or their absence). The lack of representation also seemed to shape his idea of what was possible for black performers at the time. Although it’s nice to hear that his aunt played a role in putting him on stage.
Eventually, Samuel L. Jackson decided to pursue a medical career, but while working at Morehouse College in the 1970s, he became obsessed with acting. His decision to choose a certain course, coupled with the rise of the era of black exploitation in cinema, made him realize that an acting career could be possible.:
I got this part of it, but it never occurred to me [that] I can do this for a living, and people will tell me how much they love me, how much they like me, whatever. It didn’t cross my mind, maybe somewhere in college, where I started watching these films about black exploitation that were more black on screen… I had a friend who was an actor, a guy I grew up with who was an actor. in the Morehouse/Spelman players in college. And I went to a public speaking course, and suddenly this guy offered us extra points if we would play in the “Threepenny Opera” because he didn’t have enough guys again. And I did it, and all the things I did when I was a kid came flooding back to me, and I thought, “Oh, wow. I really want to get up now and go to class or go to this thing.” And suddenly I was there, and it became like a career, like a crack that I could look at and say, “Well, I’m tired of studying all this damn science. I can just come here, hang out with these girls, play and have sex, drugs and cheap entertainment in the theater. So let’s do it and see what happens.”
I am incredibly grateful that he found his way to this course of public speaking, since without him he might not have entered the acting field. Just think, the world wouldn’t get his performances as Mace Windu from Star Wars, Ray Arnold from Jurassic Park or Nick Fury from Marvel. These roles are just fantastic, as are his roles in Pulp Fiction and Django Unchained, for which he received disparaging treatment.
The 73-year-old actor certainly has a longer acting resume than most, which allowed him to become the highest-paid Hollywood star. And he is still busy with film and TV projects after five decades of working in Hollywood. He recently hosted the show “The Last Days of Ptolemy Gray” on Apple TV+ and will be heard in “Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank”, which is released in theaters on July 15.
And his stint at Marvel is ending soon, as he’s about to reprise his role as a former member of the SHIELD. the boss in “Miracles” and supposedly “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantum Mania”. He’s also finally heading up his own MCU production, the Disney+ miniseries “Secret Invasion,” with Emilia Clarke and Olivia Colman among those joining him.