Linking up with Samuel L. Jackson
Between working with Hoffman and De Niro, the actor gets in a little golf
By BOB THOMPSON -- Toronto Sun
Samuel L. Jackson's handicap is this. His many movie jobs get in the way of his golf game.
Jackson, at the Four Seasons Hotel yesterday promoting the festival film Eve's Bayou, chuckled at the irony of that statement.
What I didn't know when I said that was what Jackson finally told me. He was speeding through his morning interview sessions so he could play a fast 18 holes in the afternoon.
Okay, so let's just leave it at he has many movie jobs.
"It has been a great year," confirmed the energetic and friendly 48-year-old Jackson.
Besides co-starring and producing Kasi Lemmon's Eve's Bayou, tomorrow night's gala, he completed Francois Girard's Red Violin, Barry Levinson's film treatment of the Michael Crichton novel, Sphere, with Dustin Hoffman and Sharon Stone, not to mention the Quentin Tarantino picture, Jackie Brown, starring Pam Grier and Robert De Niro.
"And I just finished my three days on Star Wars, which is kinda cool," reported Jackson, who was referring to the George Lucas prequel now in production.
Amazing stuff. Jackson agreed.
"One day I'm standing across from Dustin Hoffman doing this great scene, and I'm thinking like, `Aw my gawd, I'm working with Dustin Hoffman.' And the next week I'm working with Robert De Niro.
"And it's like this Tuesday, and it's Yoda. There you have it. I can retire now."
Maybe not. Maybe he's got a few more roles to do before he hits the links fulltime.
Eve's Bayou certainly proved that Jackson has hit his stride as a movie industry player. His name got the film made for writer-director Lemmon, Jackson's acting buddy from New York.
In the movie, Jackson plays a respected rural Louisiana doctor who becomes the victim of his daughter's hate. Lynn Whitfield is the daughter's mother.
It's not exactly mainstream melodrama, but that doesn't bother Jackson, who has a different kind of agenda.
"It's nice to know that people say `I really enjoy your work' rather than `I really like you,' " he said. "It keeps me from becoming a personality, and it reminds me that I have a standard that I set that people recognize and respect."
And that goes beyond recognition like his Pulp Fiction Oscar nomination. In the movie industry, Jackson, who turns down more than he accepts, has reached the upper echelon.
"I know Dustin felt that way," he said, laughing at his joke.
More seriously -- or as serious as Jackson can be -- he does get the feeling that he has arrived.
"I'm just beginning to get a sense of that. I met Gregory Peck last week, and I went to introduce myself, and he said, `I know exactly who you are.' And I thought, `Wow, Gregory Peck knows who I am.' "
So do most of the moviemakers. That's why he's always working -- in whatever he wants.
For instance, "Monday," Jackson announced, "I start The Negotiator with Kevin Spacey in Chicago."
"Yeah, and I'm supposed to play golf with Michael Jordan next week, too."
Just when he thought it couldn't get any better.