a pro script reader ponders movies, reading, writing and the occasional personal flashback

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Samuel L. Jackson is mellowing out

I saw a commercial the other day for THE MAN, and remarked to my wife that Samuel L. Jackson always seems so angry in every movie he plays; you don't see Sam doing romances. One assumes that he's going to be angry in SNAKES ON A PLANE, too; can't wait for the inevitable scene in which he grabs a snake by the tail and, swinging it like a whip, smacks its head into a bulkhead -- or the villain's throat.

(By the way, has it occurred to anyone that these snakes are really being used by the bad guys? I mean, they don't mean any of the good guys any malice -- they're just snakes on a plane, which really must freak you out if you are a snake. Maybe Sam will give them a pep talk in the third act, and get them to turn on the man who put them on the plane. Maybe Barry White will do a cameo.)

Anyhow, I just read a script that Jackson is starring in, to shoot this winter, and I was shocked to see that it is a real stretch for him; aside from one late, grieving trashing of a garden, there isn't a single scene in the script in which Jackson is mad, or where he even raises his voice to anyone. Instead, there are scenes in which he... cries.

Of course, there's still no romance. He's Samuel L. Jackson, dammit.

But it's nice to see him searching out this kind of role, one that really depends on him just inhabiting the character. If the screenplay has problems right now, it is that the writer hasn't quite finessed making the passive-Jackson character really work; there are long stretches of this where there just isn't much at stake. Being mellow during a conflict is one thing; not having enough real conflict for him to react to is another. But it'll be interesting to see if Jackson can really carry a drama that never needs him to be angry or raise his voice.

Of course, if you need angry Sam (and the persona works) according to imdb he has a slew of movies in the pipeline, and I'm sure in most of them he'll be good and pissed off.


At 2:20 AM, Anonymous Jacob said...

If you've never seen Eve's Bayou, I HIGHLY recommend it. It's probably my pick for most underappreciated movie ever, and among its many virtues is a wonderful, non-angry performance by Samuel L Jackson.


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