Wednesday 11 December 2019

Samuel L Jackson's 'backlash' fears over Oscars diversity row

African-American actor Samuel L Jackson
African-American actor Samuel L Jackson

Samuel L Jackson is worried that efforts to improve diversity in the wake of the Oscars controversy could have unintended consequences.

An all-white list of acting nominees at the 2016 Oscars caused uproar and a widespread debate about the lack of diversity in the film industry.

But Jackson, 67, told Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby on ITV's This Morning: "I know there's going to be an interesting sort of backlash.

"Things will happen, and there will be films with people of colour that have directed them, and are acting in them, and all of a sudden you'll have to start thinking 'Well, did they do this because they had that controversy last year, or am I really worthy of this award? Are they doing this as some kind of token thing, or am I really worthy?'

"So you create a whole other set of circumstances that aren't necessary, and hopefully those films and those people will be worthy."

The African-American actor also responded to comments from actress and film-maker Jodie Foster.

In an interview with Variety at the Cannes Film Festival in May, she said: "This is the most risk-averse time that I can remember in movie history ... You're going to go with the guy that looks like you."

But Jackson objected: " No, not necessarily risk-averse. People tend to do things that are successful, so everybody makes a superhero movie, everybody tries to find a great animated film that will capture kids' imaginations and get them into the theatres."

He added: " I think there are more films and specifically television shows that deal with real-life issues, there are transgender people and gay people all over television, there are specifically more Asian, Hispanic and black people on television and behind the scenes creating and doing things.

"Jodie has a voice about that, but I see a lot more things happening, and a lot more women heroes, and a lot more interesting couples on television in terms of mixed race, especially for America you got there for a very long time. I see the exact opposite."

The actor, who stars in The Legend Of Tarzan, also criticised Foster for her latest movie, Money Monster, which she directed.

He said: "T here's a lot of stuff going on that she's just not part of. She did a pretty straightahead kind of film with George Clooney - come on!

"She didn't, like, go out and find some racially diverse people to put in her movie."

Jackson also vowed to reclaim his spot from Harrison Ford as the highest-grossing US actor.

In January, it was reported that Ford had overtaken Jackson - with the Indiana Jones star edging him out by a margin of around 70 million dollars (£48.4 million).

Avengers star Jackson is confident he can move back into first position.

He said: "He's in that little thing, that little Star Wars movie.

"I got Tarzan coming out in July, I've got a Tim Burton movie coming out in September. He's done."

Jackson, who is chairman of the One For The Boys charity, also spoke out about cancer and why men can be reluctant to get checked.

He said: "We're taught not to talk about our pain and to suck it up and carry on, or tough it out and be a man."

On June 12, the charity will be holding its annual Fashion Ball at the V&A museum in London, which will feature a celebrity catwalk show.

Last year's models included actor Stanley Tucci, music star Alice Cooper, rugby player Chris Robshaw and supermodel David Gandy - and Jackson has his eye on Schofield to walk the catwalk at this year's event.

He told the TV presenter: "Hoping you might come, give us your slim body on the catwalk.

"You do have a model stroll, don't you? I've seen it."

Schofield responded: "I have to see what I can cancel in the diary."

PA Media

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