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Samuel L. Jackson: Man of Many Digital Faces

August 27th, 2007 · No Comments

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One Take Sam Computerizes His Mug in Quest for Biggest-Grossing Actor Status

By Stacey Silberman

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HOLLYWOOD, CA (Hollywood Today) 8/27/07 — Samuel L. Jackson (“Pulp Fiction,” “Star Wars I-III”) said “This is one of the few times that I had an opportunity to hide myself. You can’t recognize me until you look very closely. When I looked in the mirror, the only thing I saw of me was the eyes.” This was one of the main attractions for Jackson playing “Champ,” in the Rod Lurie directed, “Resurrecting the Champ.”

This didn’t come about by accident. For films with a lower budget than “Star Wars,” Jackson has his own computerized modeling program of his face, a little like what a high-tech plastic surgeon would use to show patients would they look like with various noses and nips. Or for those who know retro toys, “Wooly Willy,” the magnetic tablet that allowed kids to put wild hair-dos and moustaches on bald Willy.

“Al, my make-up artist has created a program on his computer that just has my blank face on it. And he can put my blank face up on it and then we’ll start going through magazines looking at hairstyles. We’ll lift a hairstyle off a picture and put it on my head. We’ll start putting stuff on my face, change the size of my nose or put scars on my face in different places. So, for this one, Al actually had a chance to wrinkle my skin,” he said.

In addition, Jackson changed his walk, his demeanor and his voice to become 20-years older and a battered, homeless and alcoholic ex-boxer.

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He also told Hollywood Today that the first thing he does after securing a role is to look at the character as a whole, including the character’s relationship to others within the story. He asks himself how the character should be perceived. “Every character or every time I get a script that I think allows me to do specific things to change me physically, I always give it to my make-up artist and I always give it to my hairdresser. I let them independently say what they think he looks like and I tell them what I think he looks like,” said Jackson.

The film also stars Josh Hartnett, (“Black Hawk Down,” The Black Dahlia”) as Erik Kernan, an ambitious, down on his luck journalist, who is separated from his successful-journalist wife (Kathryn Harris) and six-year-old son Teddy (Dakota Goyo).

Hartnett told Hollywood Today, “He (Jackson) works in such a different way than I do. Sam is an inspiring actor to work with because he’s so different. He comes with the character fully prepared. Even the first time we sat down and read scenes a few weeks before we started working, he had the voice and I knew exactly what he wanted to do. We got to set and he would do one take and Rod would say, ‘You’ve got to do it again,’ and he’d say, ‘Why? That was the performance right there. You got it.’”

Hartnett went on to say, “It’s interesting to work with an actor like that. I haven’t worked with people like that before. Working with Alan (Alda) was a huge joy too because he’s the nicest man in the world and a terrific actor. With Alan, we’d shoot and shoot until we were both happy with what we got…the interaction. With Sam, it was one and out. He knew what he was there for.”

Jackson should know what he’s there for after 100-plus films under his belt.

After all, he is the self-described highest-grossing actor of all time, having had roles, large and small, the “Star Wars” series, “The Incredibles” and “Jurassic Park” as well as some big hits of his own (“Coach Carter,” “Shaft”). “All I want is one walk-on in ‘Indiana Jones 4’ so I can stay ahead of Harrison Ford (as biggest-grossing star),” he has said. “No speaking role, I’ll just run past he camera.”

His career began with his debut in “Together For Days” in 1972, upon his graduation from Morehouse College in Atlanta. Jackson also has the distinction of working with more rappers than any other actor in Hollywood (Tupac Shakur, Busta Rhymes, 50 Cent, LL Cool J, Eve, Ice Cube & Method Man). And he even worked as a stand-in for Bill Cosby during the filming of “The Cosby Show” in 1984.

The hardest working actor in Hollywood is incessantly busy and looks for a variety of roles that let him be every kind of character imaginable. Jackson embraces his alter egos and says, “Being able to not be me is part of playing the game you play when you are doing this. I can be me everyday.”

Although Jackson’s public persona is that of a very cool dude, he claims his life is not all that exciting. When not working, he leads a somewhat low-key life. He spends time with his wife of 27 years (LaTanya Jackson), and his 25-year-old daughter Zoe. He is also a well-known golf fanatic. And recently, “I’ve gotten into the bad habit of reading the newspaper from front to back again,” said Jackson. “Since I’ve had too much time on my hands, I’ve been shooting like six-weeks of nights. So I just kind of eat and read the paper. I kind of need to go to the golf course so I can stop thinking about Cheney & Bush and what’s going on in the world. The world is bothering me more than it used to,” Jackson told Hollywood Today.

On another note, Jackson’s neighborhood is heating up with the arrival of his new mega-celeb neighbors, the David and Victoria Beckham clan.

Jackson is currently filming “Lakeview Terrace,” a film about racism and also confirmed that he just signed on to do another comic-book inspired film called, “The Spirit,” which will begin shooting in October.

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