Samuel L Jackson is 68 years old. Sixty-eight motherf*cking years. Hard to believe, isn’t it? This vision of youthful energy sitting before me, dressed in so much white that he has to drink his coffee through a straw from a plastic cup housed within a ceramic mug in order to minimise the chance of speckling, is 68.
Most people who wear all white past the age of 60 do so in a coffin, yet Jackson is far from rigor mortis. He’s promoting his latest film, The Hitman’s Bodyguard, in which he plays the hitman element of the title (Ryan Reynolds is the bodyguard). The film is an unstoppable tsunami of wisecracks and acts of extreme violence, many of which are carried out by an all-action Jackson. Who is 68.
And yet this film is his third credit of 2017; his 21st in the past five years. He currently has four lined up for 2018. This motherf*cker, you’d think, could do with a rest at his age. A nice piece of cake and a good book. However, he claims he does have free time, and knows how to use it.
“I have books and cake at home all the time,” says Jackson. “That’s part of my motif. I sit on a big easy chair, with a plate of cake next to me and a book. You know, I never thought when I was younger, that when I got to this age, I would look in the mirror and see this person. I mean, I work out like six times a week: weight training and other stuff for three days, then Pilates for three days. I’m in pretty good shape.”
Look at Samuel L Jackson, even think about Samuel L Jackson, and the phrase ‘burned out’ does not come to mind. The man is human diazepam; his handshakes could be prescribed on the NHS. He must be doing something right.
“I spend a month on a yacht every summer, in the French and Italian Riviera.”
Ooh la la. Foie gras for breakfast, then.
“I don’t eat foie gras. The yacht is a level of luxury that I didn’t know about until it happened. It’s also a level of relaxation that I can’t find anywhere else, considering my workload. It’s the one month of the year where I can actually go somewhere and do nothing. When I wake up, there’s always somebody popping up out of the floor, asking if they can get me something. Then they get you something; it’s relaxing and stress-free. There are three couples and about 19 crew.
“Most people, probably, when they go on vacation, have a plan. You go to a specific place and you’re everyday bouncing out of your hotel to go see this thing or go do that thing. So you’re still working. When I’m on that boat, I don’t have to get off it. There’s a great chef, so if I want something to eat, I can tell somebody to prepare it. When I want to get off, I can, but I don’t make a plan. The majority of the plan is get up and do nothing. I read, I watch movies, talk with the few people that are there. It’s just a month of doing nothing.”
Any book recommendations?
“Jeez, what am I reading right now?” he asks himself, which is good, because I have no idea. “I just finished reading I Am Pilgrim again, which is a great spy novel, and Red Sparrow, which is being made into a movie with Jennifer Lawrence. I read things where people kill people, because I do movies like that.”
Reads about killing. Makes films about killing. Kills time on boats. Bit worrying.
“No, not at all. I don’t have the nerve to do some of the things my characters do in movies. I have compassion for people.”
Some of the things. Hmm. So what about film recommendations? It is claimed, on the internet, that he likes anime and hentai. Any favourites? Urotsukidōji: Legend Of The Overfiend perhaps? Or Hikari Wo Motomete The Animation? Classics both.
“You know,” he says, chuckling away. “I said that as a joke. It’s like I can’t make jokes now without people thinking it’s the most serious thing in the world. I mean, it’s cartoon porn. It’s fine, it’s just not my preference. If I’m gonna look at porn, I’m gonna look at real people.”
What about non-porn anime?
“Anime anime? No.”
One pastime or passion (depending on how seriously you take propelling a small sphere 500 yards into a buried cup) that Jackson definitely digs is, you guessed it, golf. If there’s a pro-celebrity tournament in town, it’ll feature a 68-year-old in bright slacks. And often, he’ll be Samuel L Jackson.
Golf isn’t known for its beef (other than Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston), but last year this noble sport caused quite a ruckus between Jackson and the soon-to-be Leader of the Free World. Jackson claimed in a US magazine interview that not only had he played a round with Donald Trump [insert your own joke about Trump playing around here], but that Trump had cheated. Trump denied having met Jackson, let alone sharing a fairway with him: a claim subsequently shown to be, as Don likes to say, dishonest.
It’s the kind of experience that can only harm a relationship. On a percentage scale, how much does Jackson trust Trump?
“Yeah, I mean that’s known. I’m not alone in that.”
I’m just surprised it’s not lower. OK, if he broke into your house, what would you do?
“If he broke into my house?”
If you woke up in the morning and discovered that Donald Trump had broken in.
“If he broke into my house what would he do? He would probably leave something incriminating and then call somebody to say that it was there.”
But what would you do if you found him?
“Oh, I’d shoot him. That’s just the nature of breaking in the wrong person’s house – you get shot.”
Jackson has a grin on his face; the kind of grin that is beyond cheeky. This grin is the preserve of the Master Sh*t-stirrer. He sucks on his straw. He’s just pressed his own Big Red Button. The world, he knows, will soon shudder from the force of a thousand right-wing bedroom warriors battering their keyboards to near extinction, their tiny minds discombobulating as they desperately try to decide what angers them most about what he’s just said.
Of course, they’ll enjoy that. And he’ll enjoy it even more. Everyone needs a hobby.
(The Hitman’s Bodyguard is at cinemas 18 August)
(Photographs: Clara Molden/Camera Press, Xposurephotos.com)