What is the secret of being cool at any age? Not asking the wrong person.
“I do not think I’m cool,” insists Samuel L. Jackson, explaining how his personal life diverges from his on-screen personae. “At home, I just get up in the morning and do my thing. I do a lot of interesting things. I play golf. I go see movies with my wife.”
But in front of the camera, even at age 74, Jackson’s swagger remains unmistakable.
It’s on full display in the new Disney+ streaming series “Secret Invasion.” Jackson returns as Avengers leader Nick Fury, who is called upon to save mankind when green-faced Skrulls infiltrate the highest spheres of the Marvel Universe.
Jackson also will portray Fury in “The Marvels,” due out this fall.
Both projects explain more about the mystery of his character.
“The more you find out about him, the more you’ll like him. The more I like him. It’s about peeling the onion while having a good time,” Jackson says during a media event in Los Angeles. “We even go home with Nick and answer, ‘Do I live in a condo or a real house? Do I have a backyard? Do I have a grill? A kitchen island?’ Maybe we’ll even have some cooking with Nick Fury.”
Jackson’s private universe is in Beverly Hills with his wife, actress LaTanya Richardson Jackson. Their daughter, Zoe, is a television producer.
His good life tips:
Find joy in the familiar
Fifteen years into his arc in the MCU, Jackson relishes coming home again to the Fury character. What secrets can he share about the series? “Well, Nick’s kind of been gone for a while since the Snap,” he says. “Now he’s a little bit tired and a little vulnerable. He’s summoned back to Earth to deal with some brotherly love. There are some people who are my green brothers, so we’ll see what happens.”
Being the oldest guy is OK
How is Nick Fury aging? “Well, he had a bad knee and he’s not happy about it, but he pushes on,” Jackson says. “I’m not complaining for him.”
Jackson, a native of Chattanooga, Tennessee, had a tough early life. He was a shy child who stuttered but found joy in watching movies and then re-enacting the scenes in his backyard. “I loved the Westerns. Give me anything with John Wayne, Audie Murphy or Roy Rogers,” he says. “You couldn’t move me from ‘Have Gun — Will Travel’ or ‘The Rifleman’ on TV.
“When I did the lines from the movies, I didn’t stutter,” he adds. “I found what was so cool to me.”
Trust your talent
Jackson started out at Morehouse College studying to become a marine biologist. Then a professor heard Jackson speak and asked him to try acting. He moved to New York to find stage work before landing early film roles in “Jungle Fever,” “Mo’ Better Blues” and “Jurassic Park.”
What helped push his career was believing that it would happen. “I trusted in my talent and my preparation. … And I made my own luck,” he says.
Make work fun
“I show up. I say my lines and hit my marks,” Jackson says. “I just want to have a good time at work. I look at making movies like going to a playground every day. Remember that feeling when you were a kid? You couldn’t wait to get to those swings? My thing with work is I want everyone to have that feeling and have as much fun as I’m having as we tell a story.”
Get out there
Jackson gets his exercise in the great outdoors. “If I’m not on a set, you can usually find me on a golf course,” he says, equating his favorite pastime with life. “Sometimes you go out there and there’s a calming breeze. Other days you go out there and it’s raining. If it’s cold, you have to reach for another club.
“No matter what, you just figure it out and trust in what’s happening in that moment. … That little ball is waiting for you. You move it in a specific direction. If you do it right, you win. If you don’t, you get the blame.”
Find the positive in aging
“Yes, we’re all getting older. I’m older,” Jackson says. “But the positive is we’ve had time to figure out what we want and do not want. We’ve had time to figure out what we do believe — and what we do not believe. Now that’s cool.”