Call it the passing of a torch.
Samuel L. Jackson teams up once again with his longtime friend and collaborator Quentin Tarantino in the upcoming slave-Western epic Django Unchained, but instead of playing the ass-kicking protagonist -- as per his custom in the director's films -- Jackson dons makeup and a bald cap to play an old, conniving slave. Yet while the man who once wielded a gun in Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown is now about to be seen on the big screen waving a cane (Jamie Foxx, as the slave-turned-bounty hunter Django, is Tarantino's lead), Jackson quite enjoyed his role as a cruel-intentioned slave who is out to take down the heroes.
"It's always freeing to be bad and evil," he told The Hollywood Reporter at the film's premiere in New York City on Tuesday. "You get to work all that stuff out that you don't get to work out in your own life."
Having worked with Tarantino so frequently, Jackson has had a front-row seat for the director's development as a writer and storyteller. Many of his films have dealt with the interaction and integration of races in America (Jackson starred in Tarantino's blaxploitation homage Jackie Brown), and with Django's tale of slavery and revenge, the Oscar winner tackles the topic head on. For his part, Jackson thinks Tarantino has a grip on the racial issue, especially in a cinematic way.
"He grew up in the South," the actor said. "He's watched a lot of film. He has some very interesting historic and kind of made-up Italian films about slavery that we all watched and had a good laugh about it. So it's just a matter of him putting his spin on the reality of what that particular story was."
In the little time Jackson has when he's not making films -- he assumes his tough-guy run as Nick Fury in Marvel's anthology of films soon -- he tends to send out attention-grabbing tweets. This summer, he became his own one-man broadcasting crew as he wrote excited and explicit play-by-play of the London Olympics.
"I just liked the fact that it was a chance for us to cheer for our country, to be very pro-American in a not so offensive way," he explained to THR. "I discovered a few games that I hadn't paid much attention to, like handball and field hockey. I watched water polo; I was really pleased for our water polo team."