Samuel L. Jackson on ‘The Sunset Limited’

Samuel L. Jackson on starring in the Tommy Lee Jones directed HBO film.

Fred Topelby Fred Topel

Samuel L. Jackson on 'The Sunset Limited'

It’s no secret I love hearing Samuel L. Jackson talk. I especially love it when he says MF but even if he’s being polite, the man commands the English language. In the HBO movie The Sunset Limited, it’s just Jackson and Tommy Lee Jones, who also directed, in a room for 90 minutes. It’s based on the Cormac McCarthy play, and at a Television Critics Association satellite feed (Sam was in New York), I unleashed my fanboy love of his voice.


CraveOnline: You have such a distinct voice, how great is it to have a piece that’s so intensely dialogue driven?

Samuel L. Jackson: It’s always a really amazing chance to do speeches and to have ideas that are challenging to the actor and to an audience to listen to, for us to make sense of, for Tommy Lee and I to be able to sit there and look each other in the eye and grasp and sort of take the pauses that people take when they have conversations, to take the time to ruminate over what one person said and keep that rumination active so that we can energize the thought that Cormac is trying to express. I’ve always loved theater and it’s been a while since I had an opportunity to learn that much dialogue at one particular time and spit it out. To be in a creative space with someone like Tommy Lee Jones was a real blessing for someone who’s been away from the theater as long as I have.


CraveOnline: Has memorizing always come easy to you, given the memorable speeches you have had?

Samuel L. Jackson: I don’t know what that facility is. I do have a sort of ease in doing it. There were times when we were rehearsing that I would skip three pages or something would happen, we’d kind of get lost because there are so many repetitive things sometimes. That became the challenge also, to know where I was in the room, especially being at that table a lot. You can’t memorize word by the blocking. You have to listen to the other person talk and honestly respond in that honest fashion. It wasn’t as easy as it used to be when I was younger.


CraveOnline: You haven’t done a lot of TV before except for voice work. Is this the start of your interest in exploring that more?

Samuel L. Jackson: I have an interest in television. I have a television deal at CBS and I’ve sold several shows to the network all ready. Some of them I will take a more than active producorial part in. I may act in a few of them. Television’s a fertile ground. There’s some wonderful work being done in television, sort of like the indie film world back in the ‘90s. So I’m exploring that thought and working more toward it.