Samuel L. Jackson Still Bitter About Being Passed Over for ‘Reservoir Dogs’

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Gwynne Watkins
·Writer, Yahoo Entertainment
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Samuel L. Jackson attends a screening in New York City on August 11 (Getty)

Though Samuel L. Jackson has appeared in six of Quentin Tarantino’s films — including The Hateful Eight, in theaters Dec. 25 — he still harbors a slight grudge about the one that got away. In an interview for New York magazine’s Fall Preview issue, Jackson described how he flubbed his 1991 audition for Tarantino’s debut feature.

The actor, fresh off his acclaimed performance in Jungle Fever, showed up to his Reservoir Dogs audition with the understanding that he’d be reading with Tim Roth and Harvey Keitel. Instead, he found himself auditioning with two people he didn’t recognize, and who struck him as deeply unprofessional — laughing and flubbing their lines. “I didn’t realize it was Quentin, the director-writer, and Lawrence Bender, the producer,” Jackson told New York, “but I knew that the audition was not very good.” Added the actor, “My agent and manager tell me that my expectations of everybody else being as prepared as I am is my biggest problem.”

While Jackson didn’t get the part, he made an impression on Tarantino. After Reservoir Dogs premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, the director informed Jackson that he was writing something for him — and two weeks later, a Pulp Fiction script arrived in the mail. Jackson aced his audition for that one (thanks in part to the anger he channeled from someone in casting calling him “Mr. Fishburne”), and his role as Bible-quoting hit man Jules Winnfield ultimately resulted in an Oscar nomination.

Related: Why Your Theories About the ‘Pulp Fiction’ Briefcase Are Probably Wrong

Here, a few more things we learned about Jackson from his New York interview. To read the whole thing, go to Vulture.

He dreamed about doing those Capital One commercials. “They’re hilarious,” Jackson said. “I used to watch Alec Baldwin and Jimmy Fallon do them and think, How would I say that? ‘What’s in your wallet? What’s in your wallet?’ So when they called, it was kind of like, ‘Really? For real? Okay!’”

His Django Unchained role could have been even more disturbing. Some of the actor’s scenes as Stephen, an antebellum-era house slave who tortures his fellow slaves, were so brutal that Tarantino that cut them. “He was like, ‘People hate you enough. I don’t know if I want people trying to kill you on the street,’” said Jackson.

He and Tarantino get together regularly for “movie nights.” They meet at Tarantino’s house because, according to Jackson, “he’s got a bigger theater.”