Samuel L. Jackson

Samuel L. Jackson has been named a presenter on the 70th Academy Awards Presentation, telecast producer Gil Cates has announced. This will be Jackson's second appearance as a presenter on the show. Jackson received an Oscar nomination for Pulp Fiction, in the Actor in a Supporting Role category. He recently starred in Eve's Bayou and Jackie Brown and will soon be seen in Sphere, The Red Violin and The Negotiator. His other credits include A Time to Kill, Die Hard with A Vengeance, The Long Kiss Goodnight, Losing Isaiah and Jungle Fever. The 70th Academy Awards Presentation will be held on Monday, March 23, 1998, at the Los Angeles Shrine Auditorium, and will be broadcast live by the ABC Television Network beginning at 6:00 p. m. (PST). Information about the 70th Annual Academy Awards can be accessed on the world wide web.

Someday, when the world is fair and actors are given awards for merit rather than box office receipts, Samuel L. Jackson will win an Oscar. Hopefully, he won't have long to wait. Jackson is more than a good, solid actor, who, according to Spencer Tracy's humorous opinion, should "learn lines and not bump into furniture." His talent is sui chameleon. People may not remember him in Ragtime, Mo' Better Blues, or Coming to America. Or recognize him in True Romance, Do The Right Thing, Kiss of Death, Patriot Games, or Jurassic Park. While ambiguity might bother the more traditional actor, Jackson likes it like that. For him, morphing between characters is a favorite pastime (eclipsed only perhaps by a good game of golf, when his perpetually busy schedule allows). Working steadily on the New York stage since receiving a drama degree from Atlanta's Morehouse College, Jackson had supporting roles in over a dozen films before his breakthrough in Spike Lee's 1991 Jungle Fever. Film audiences and critics alike were awed by his portrayal of the crack-addicted Gator, and the Cannes Film Festival created a "Best Supporting Actor" category to honor his work in the film. In 1994, Jackson slipped into the skin of Jules Winnfield, a Jeri-Kurled, Bible-quoting professional hit man, in Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction, and his life changed. Anonymity is now harder to come by, if at all possible, no matter how many hairstyles he wears. His performance in Pulp earned him Best Supporting Actor nominations for both the Oscars and the Golden Globes, and a Best Supporting Actor Award from the British Academy of Film and Television. Also in 1994, Jackson starred in John Frankenheimer's Emmy Award-winning Against the Wall, an original HBO production. For his imperious performance as one of the few non-violent convicts in the take-over of Attica Prison, Jackson received both Cable Ace and Golden Globe nominations for Best Supporting Actor in a miniseries or TV movie. Since that film, Jackson has camouflaged himself in a series of roles, including the hard-edged attorney in Losing Isaiah, a hustling fight promoter in The Great White Hype, unwilling sidekick to Bruce Willis in Die Hard With A Vengeance and to Geena Davis in The Long Kiss Goodnight, and as the outraged father in A Time to Kill, with Sandra Bullock and Matthew McConaughey. Last year, in 187, Jackson portrayed a victim-turned-vigilante inner-city schoolteacher, perhaps his most emotionally gripping role to date, and produced as well as starred as a hot-blooded Southern doctor in Eve's Bayon. In a 1997 reunion with Quentin Tarantino, Jackson portrayed Ordell Robbie, the boastful and extremely dangerous gun smuggler, in Jackie Brown. Tarantino has reported that he wrestled with using Jackson (his first and only choice for the part), because he wondered if pleasant memories of their work together on Pulp Fiction were unduly influencing his judgment. "But," as Tarantino said, "I honestly think any director who was casting this role would give his right arm to be able to get Sam. The combination of a bad guy who projects absolute menace, but is also eloquent and intelligent - which just makes him scarier - who else could do that as well as Sam can do it?" This spring, Jackson introduces his first film of 1998, in which he stars with Dustin Hoffman and Sharon Stone in Barry Levinson's scifi thriller Sphere, based on the bestseller by Michael Crichton. On the day SMOKE caught up with him, however, he was enjoying a few days off between shooting The Negotiator, in which he co-stars opposite Kevin Spacey, and filming a few pick-up shots for Sphere. YOU SEEM TO CHANGE YOUR CHARACTERS' HAIRSTYLES MORE THAN MOST ACTRESSES DO. I always try and figure out how I want a character to look, according to what he does in the script, or from the background I've researched. The character should be someone totally separate from who I am. I make an effort to alter myself, so that when I look in a mirror, I see that character and I don't see Sam. YOUR APPEARANCE WAS THE MOST OUTRAGEOUS IN JACKIE BROWN. WHERE DID YOU GET THE IDEA FOR THAT LITTLE BEARD? I met a guy in Taiwan last year who had a mole right here on his neck [points to the left side of his neck]. He had two hairs that grew out of it and he looked gross, because the hairs were about four feet long. Apparently, he waxed them, because they didn't hang straight down; they arched off of his neck. He wore shirts that accentuated this mole and those hairs, so you could always see them against the shirt. I started thinking about Jackie Brown while I was there and said, "I can have a braid on my chin and put the little gold thing on it." I loved it. YOU THEN SHAVED YOUR HEAD FOR YOUR ROLE IN SPHERE. Last winter, I did a film called Red Violin [not yet released, where I play a 60-year-old guy. I cut the center of my hair out for that and the rest of it was white around the sides. When I finished that film I was going into Sphere about three days later, so all I could do was shave my head. It turned out that was perfect for the character. YOU HAVE A CAMEO IN THE PREQUEL TO STAR WARS. HOW MUCH CAN YOU DESCRIBE WITHOUT GETTING SUED? You know, I don't remember signing any waivers. [Smiles] But I actually don't know that much. All they gave me were the pages I was in, so I don't know what happened before or what happened after. I enjoyed working with George Lucas - I think he's a wonderful guy. DO YOU REMEMBER YOUR FIRST CIGAR? It was probably one of my grandfather's White Owls. I used to sneak those from him and his brother.