Samuel L. Jackson

Samuel L Jackson as Mitch

This shoot was cool. We had a great time. The fact that Renny is a Viking and likes cold weather made it all the better for him. Geena and I were pretty miserable most of the time because -- you know, they were sitting around in those great suits and had moon boots on. We had costumes on. We were freezing.

But luckily they had two guys with butane heaters that constantly stood next to us and fired heat up on us and did all that kind of stuff.

But, the shoot itself was fun. Geena and I were actually like kids playing this cops and robbers game. That's what doing a film like this should be about. In the middle of all that we had these very two interesting people who were on this great odyssey -- trying to discover themselves and it was nice.

My character, Mitch is a great guy. He's kind of a complex individual. You have a guy with this tough exterior who's been damaged in a lot of different ways. By his relationships; his time in prison, being an ex-cop and he doesn't have a lot of self worth. Trying to help this woman gives him a whole new understanding of who he is and who he can be. I think that's the great thing about this film. You've got this great action thing going on. You've got these two people in the middle of it you can actually care about. When they get in jeopardy you can actually wonder or say to yourself, "They might not make it through this. This might be the one." These people are actually in some real danger and you care about them to think something might happen.

Mitch wasn't written as an African-American. So, when I got the role different things happened and you have to change the way he talks and a lot of times the way he thinks because I actually bring another kind of sensibility with me to the role. My sense of humor and my kind of sarcastic nature sometimes kind of creeps into the things I do and say. That was a real concern by my agents and managers who are all women. About the dialogue, they'd go, "This is so misogynistic. You can't say that." I'd say, "There's a way to say anything." They were real concerned about some of those things that come out of his mouth and come out of Samantha's mouth. So, we had to work that out. I think my sense of humor and my kind of boyish charm, at times, allows those things to happen and not be malicious. I guess I brought that with me.

Some of the stuff is mine, some is Shane's. It just kind of happens that way. Even down to Shane having written that he sings things so that he won't forget them. Now -- I don't know what song Shane had in his head, but because I got the role, it all of a sudden became "Mitch's Blues."

Everybody keeps talking about Mitch's interesting taste in clothes, but those aren't Mitch's clothes. You know, he gets wet. He gets out of his clothes and he takes the clothes out of that guy's trunk and he puts them on. That's what that guy had in his suitcase. In order to get warm you put on what you find.

I did seventy percent of my own stunts. Renny didn't force us. He told us and he was very right about this, that audiences are a lot more sophisticated these days. When they're watching a stunt happen they know that when you shoot a close-up of me and then you cut away to a medium shot that you've got a stunt man there and then you come back to me for the end of it. So, he kind of asked Geena and I to do as much as we could physically do. They taught me how to do it. It was cool. He would put up like eight or nine cameras when the stunts were going on so we wouldn't have to do them more than two times. He would get all the shots that he needed so he cut down on the risk factor. We did as much as we could.

I knew that I didn't know enough to get blown out of that window. The guy that's my stunt double, Ciante, has been doing this since he was a kid. So he got blown out of that window. I watched it happen. It was great. Great shot. I mean there's no digital anything there. They blew him out of a window, through a sign and into a tree. It's great.

I met Geena and Renny at a dinner party one night. I'd been chasing this part for about a year and a half to two years. Nobody could give me a definitive answer -- and then I heard Renny and Geena were doing it. They were at this dinner party and they were about to leave that night and I walked up to them and introduced myself and said, "You know, I'd like a chance to work with you guys one of these days." They said, "Oh yeah, we know who you are. It'd be great to work with you." The next week I had a meeting with Renny and three days later I had the job. So -- that's how that happened.

There's a tone of sexual tension in the script between these two characters and I didn't know if they were willing to allow that to happen between an African-American male and this female person they were trying to put in this thing. I mean, men do run Hollywood. They are threatened in very strange and interesting kinds of way. Old myths and bullshit trips -- excuse me -- old myths and other things creep in.

I loved the character -- Mitch Henderson. He's somebody I hadn't done and it was the most interesting character that I'd seen in a very long time. In the course of about a month I maybe read twenty or twenty-five scripts and out of those script three might be interesting. Out of those three interesting, there may be two interesting characters. It's my responsibility now -- to find those characters. When people pay their money to come to a film I'm in they expect to see an interesting character. And they expect the story to have some matter of interest or excitement too. So, that's my responsibility as Samuel Jackson the actor, to make sure I'm giving the people what they paid their money to get. It's also incumbent upon me as the artist to pick things that will help me grow and to reinvent myself all the time.

When she's trying to seduce me in the film -- it's pretty hard to stand there and get involved in that because Renny was directing. There was really no sound at one point and off camera -- here she is -- she's kissing me -- and off camera you hear, "Now, lick his neck. Yes. Yes. Yes. Now stick your tongue in his ear. Yes. Now. Now rub your hand on his thigh. Right there. Right there." It's kind of like -- "Oh no -- this threesome's not working. This is not happening." The guy in the closet is supposed to be quiet and just run the camera. I standing there going, "Oh, this is a nasty man. Stop talking." It's pretty funny. It was cool.

Interviews with: Geena Davis | Renny Harlin | Shane Black

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