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Samuel L Jackson: Hollywood Hero

LEGEND: Samuel L. Jackson

WITH AN acting career that’s spanned 40 years, Samuel L. Jackson is considered by many as a Hollywood hero.

But with his role in this year’s hit flick Marvel’s The Avengers, the 63-year-old once again entered superhero territory, reprising his role as Nick Fury – the super-spy he portrayed in films including Iron Man, Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger.

The film’s story follows Fury – director of the international peacekeeping agency known as S.H.I.E.L.D. – as he initiates a daring, globe-spanning recruitment effort to assemble the world’s mightiest superheroes to defeat an unexpected enemy threatening global safety and security.

Revered as one of Hollywood’s leading black talents – and talents full stop – Jackson boasts a truly enviable list of credits, which would explain why the Guinness Book of Records last year declared him as the highest grossing film star of all time, with his films having grossed a whopping $7.4bn (£4.6bn).

ACTION MAN: Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury

So how does the star, whose credits include A Time To Kill, Pulp Fiction and Shaft, go about choosing his roles?

“Most of the time, I’m looking for a story that’s exciting, or maybe a subject that I haven’t seen on screen before,” Jackson explains. “Then I look for a character on the inside of that story that presents specific challenges to me. Well, unless I’ve been assigned a character already, which was the case with Nick Fury. That’s generally how it works for me.”

Recalling the mood during the filming of Marvel’s The Avengers, which is released on DVD this week, Jackson says that there was a warm atmosphere amongst the cast, which included Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth and Scarlett Johansson.

“There was a big family feeling on set. [Director] Joss [Whedon] set up the rules, and we showed up and played by the rules. We had a great time doing that and it was cool to be in that space where we could show the audience that these guys have superpowers, but they have normal attitudes, too.

“They get annoyed with each other and they argue about petty stuff. They can be smart asses, they can be heroes and they can also be jerks – but they all eventually find a way to love each other.”

Was it hard for the cast to take each other seriously when they were turning up for work in extensive superhero outfits?

“No, because we were all playing roles. If we were heading out for dinner in these outfits then it would be different! But we were working on a film set and it’s a believable world. I remember when I was a kid reading Superman comic books. There were people with tights and boots along with orange, green and yellow hair and capes. In every movie, you accept the rules of the world where the movie is set.”

Just as Nick Fury’s job as the head of major agency makes him a powerful character, so too does Jackson’s status in Hollywood enable him to be seen as one of the film industry’s leading power-players. Still, the star says he’s all too aware of how some people use their status to manipulate others.

“Power is something that’s pretty much appealing to most people. However, I never really thought about power or how people wield it until I got to Hollywood. During the early days of my career, I started to discover the interesting ways that people give power to you and then take it away. They sometimes make you think that you have it, or give you the illusion of it – but you don’t always possess power. It’s a very strange and interesting thing.”

Reflecting on his career, Jackson considers which of his films he’s most proud of.

“I’m proud of all of them, although there are some I like more than others. My favourite film of my own is The Long Kiss Goodnight because I like great action films. I think Geena Davis was brilliant in that film. She was a bit ahead of her time because that movie was shot before they knew how to market women bad-asses. She’s the quintessential woman badass.

“If you watched that movie, it’s great. Just like The Avengers is great, too. I’ve had a lot of fun working on this film and I’m really proud of what we’ve created. It feels great to be part of the Marvel universe.”

And thankfully, Jackson isn’t one of those actors who shies away from watching himself on the big screen.

“All those actors that tell you they don’t like seeing themselves on screen are lying,” he says. “I don’t get actors who say, ‘I can’t stand to watch myself. Oh no, I’m horrible.’

“Why would anybody else pay $13 to go and see your face if you don’t want to see it yourself?”

Marvel Avengers Assemble is out on Blu-ray and DVD on September 17

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