But with his longevity in the movie industry, Jackson has also experienced a shadier side of Hollywood.
Samuel L. Jackson didn’t set out to be a real movie star in Hollywood
Jackson was already a working actor years before Hollywood recruited him. The Avengers star had a few television credits and already had a presence in theater. A Soldier’s Play and The Piano Lesson were just a couple of the plays the actor performed in.
But before he set out for an acting career, Jackson didn’t set out to achieve movie stardom. In Jackson’s younger years, that didn’t even seem like a possibility.
“Imagining that you wanted to be on screen or be a movie star was like, no, that was crazy. I grew up in segregation, you know, that didn’t happen…It never occurred to me that I could be a movie star, even though I was watching Sidney Poitier from time to time on screen,” Jackson once said in an interview with Deadline. “It just was not in the realm of possibility. It was not something that you could aspire to.”
Jackson wasn’t even aware he could make a living as a working actor until his college years.
“That didn’t occur to me until maybe somewhere in college, where I started watching these blaxploitation films, that was more Black representation on screen,” he said.
Eventually, the acting bug took hold of Jackson for good and he’d found his calling in life.
Samuel L. Jackson felt that parts of Hollywood was sleazy
There are a lot of perks that come with being a movie star in Hollywood. But there were also certain experiences he’s had with the film industry that showed him the film industry could have a dark side. In a 2013 interview with Esquire, the honorary Oscar-winner was asked if he thought Hollywood was sleazy
“Parts of it are,” Jackson answered before going into detail. “People lie to you all the time. It’s like the old joke; two agents are walking along the beach, they see a pretty girl and the first guy says, ‘Man, I’d really like to f*** her.’ The other agent goes, ‘Out of what?'”
Jackson went on to share that fame had changed a lot from the time he first started becoming famous. So much so that if he was a younger actor, he felt some of that fame might even go to his head.
“I don’t treat myself like I’m special. But there is a whole new phenomenon with fame now that, I guess, if I was a younger person maybe I’d get caught up in. People pay you huge amounts of money to come to a club and just be there so other people will go,” he said.
Samuel L. Jackson believed the mechanics of acting is more important than trying to be movie star
Jackson felt that to be an actor, as with any other occupation, required a certain level of skill. Without this skillset, the Django Unchained star believed aspiring actors might have a difficult time making it in the film industry.
“Say you want to be an actor. Well, then you need to learn the mechanics of the theatre: upstage, downstage, stage right, stage left, countercross. Everything is a valuable lesson,” Jackson once told Gentleman’s Journal.
He noticed over the years that celebrities with fame from other occupations attempted to be movie stars without learning these mechanics. But Jackson felt taking a shortcut to movie stardom would only lead to disappointment.
“A lot of people show up now from doing something else,” he continued. “Like, ‘I’m good-looking,’ or ‘I played basketball for a while,’ or ‘I used to be a stand-up comedian and I wasn’t very funny.’ No. You won’t make it. The mechanics is the skill set that will sustain you even on days when you don’t feel like doing it, when you’re at work and you’re not feeling that magic.”