He's had starring roles in “Unbreakable,” “Pulp Fiction,” “Jackie Brown,” “The Spirit,” “xXx” and other films too numerous to mention. He was in the “Star Wars” prequels, plus the "Clone Wars." He was the voice of “Afro Samurai,” which he also co-produced. He'll be appearing in “Iron Man 2” later this year. And he's a huge fan of comics.
Mega-star actor Samuel L. Jackson has never made a secret of his love for comic books, but fans were nevertheless shocked when BOOM! Studios first circulated, without comment, an image of Jackson's likeness as the cover of a new series. Soon, the publisher revealed that Jackson would be writing an outer-space adventure titled “Cold Space” with his “Afro Samurai” co-conspirator Eric Calderon, to be illustrated by Jeremy Rock. CBR News previously spoke with Calderon, and Jackson himself stopped by the CBR studio for a video interview. We are now proud to present an interview with the actor covering “Cold Space,” reuniting with Calderon, entering the comic book field, and what's currently in his pull box.
The series finds an outlaw named Mulberry—“played by” Jackson—stranded on a planet torn by civil war. But rather than pick sides, Mulberry looks to turn the situation to his advantage and profits from the chaos. In CBR's previous interview with co-writer Eric Calderon, Jackson's “Cold Space” and “Afro Samurai” collaborator said that, “Mulberry is just a runaway criminal who doesn’t feel like getting taken in by the Galactic police and wants to keep making a buck so he can have some fun and have some cool stuff. When he crash lands on a ghetto space mining moon, he finds that the one small town that exists has two warring entrepreneurs and a third freelance scavenger gang on motorcycle.”
Jackson discussed with CBR the story's setup and appeal, and noted that his working relationship with Calderon allows for a pretty smooth creative process. “After 'Afro,' E had some ideas about how we could keep working together and they all sounded pretty good,” Jackson said. “We meet every few weeks or so and he brings stuff we can do. A few of them are already in play in various stages. In that sense, he’s a producer and writer that I dig. He’s aiight.
“Me and E have worked together for a few years now, so some things just click. We made a pretty simple set-up with characters and easy to understand goals,” he continued. “Basically it’s always about money, power, and sometimes women. But if that’s what everyone wants and it’s all in short supply.. Then shit gets COLD if you know what I mean. Not so different from life today!”
For many actors, it's hard for them to watch their work after it's been filmed. But Jackson said that, in both acting and lending his likeness to a comic character in "Cold Space," there's no discomfort. “It’s really not a problem for me. I take roles where I feel I add to the overall entertainment or are the kinds of films I wanted to see when I was a kid,” Jackson said. “When I first saw the rough cover image by [Jeffrey] Spokes, I was like, ‘Cool. Can you send that to my Blackberry?’”
As to whether any of his acting roles held any similarity to the character he “plays” in this series, Jackson said, “I’ve been in a lot of roles, man. So, I try not to compare them to each other. Each is unique to the script. I’d rather compare Mulberry to characters like Han Solo or even to classic cowboy or wandering ronin types. We’re just writing him as a talented smart ass trying to keep his pockets full of cash. Hopefully, we’re not imitating or copying someone else’s characters. We’re gonna try to make it our own.”
Even prior to diving into the business, Jackson has been known as a tremendous fan of comics. “Man I read a lot of comics! I’ve got a pull list that’s always kept in a box for me at Golden Apple in LA. So, it’s hard to say which are my favorites,” Jackson told CBR. “Right now, I will say that I was a big 'Lone Wolf and Cub' fan. Read all the volumes and even had dinner with the creator Kazuo Koike in Japan. But, personally, I’m now into the cop/crime drama. 'Fell.' 'Sam & Twitch.' '100 Bullets.' That kind of stuff.”
CBR also asked Jackson whether there were any projects he'd like to do in comics, film, or some other medium, that might surprise his fans. “I don’t have any particular direction I need to go. I just look at each project as it comes,” Jackson said. “But, I’d like to do more action-oriented animation. Also, I’m a big fan of Asian cinema. Also, the possibility of getting more involved with comics would be fun for me since I already read so much. We’ll see.”