Samuel Jackson, so good when he's bad

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Samuel Jackson, so good when hes bad

Samuel L. Jackson comes over all villainous in his latest movie Kingsman: The Secret Service

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Published: Sat 28 Feb 2015, 10:44 PM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 8:30 PM

Samuel L. Jackson has always enjoyed playing the bad guy and film lovers adore seeing him do it. There are times, he says, when it’s deeply rewarding creating a memorable villain that cinema audiences enjoy just as much as the hero. Just like it was in Kingsman: The Secret Service.

Jackson has crafted a truly memorable megalomaniac called Richmond Valentine – a super rich tech businessman who wants to save the world by killing almost everyone in it.

The earth’s population has risen to unsustainable levels and, in Valentine’s warped reasoning, it needs culling – drastically.

“He’s just a very rich guy, a self-made millionaire, who is a problem solver of sorts, and he has a solution for the world economic problems,” says Jackson with a smile.

Valentine also speaks with a lilting, totally disarming, lisp – a trait that was all down to Jackson himself and was rooted in his own childhood.

“It’s something that clearly defines him in terms of when people speak of him, or hear him, or they listen. It also makes people sit up and listen closer, because they don’t want to miss the words, like, ‘What did he say?’

“There’s something about people who have handicaps that people either dismiss or embrace, and for him, I’m sure that’s one of his driving forces throughout his life.

“I used to stutter when I was a kid, so having a stutter made people dismiss me, or laugh at me, or do things which made me work harder to be smarter, tougher, better – whatever – than all those other kids who laughed at me.”

Jackson loves comic books. He’s been a fan for years and still regularly visits his local store to check out the latest releases. A couple of years ago, he came home with Mark Millar’s The Secret Service, the graphic novel which is a companion piece to Vaughn’s film. Millar and Vaughn – who worked together successfully on Kick-Ass – developed their stories in tandem.

A year or so later, the script for Kingsman arrived.

Jackson was keen to work with Matthew Vaughn and wanted to give the character of Valentine his own, unique spin. He wanted to create a truly memorable villain – one that could join the esteemed ranks of cinema baddies that he’s enjoyed down the years.

“Some of it was in the comic and some of it was mine,” he says of creating Valentine. “The way he looks is in the comic, in a certain kind of way. His affectations and persona are things that I’d lobbied and brought with me, to the process.

He found a kindred spirit in Vaughn. Both of them are concerned with getting the details exactly right when it comes to character and story. Valentine is an American and Vaughn, a Brit, wanted to make sure that his dialogue was exactly right.

Jackson stars opposite Colin Firth who plays Harry Hart, an elite operative with a clandestine organisation, The Kingsmen, who discovers that Valentine is behind the mysterious disappearances of a host of prominent academics, scientists and entertainers.

For Firth, an Oscar winner for his brilliant performance in The King’s Speech, playing the suave, sophisticated but ruthless gentleman spy is an all action role unlike anything that he has undertaken before. He will surprise, and delight audiences, and for Jackson it made perfect sense.

“He’s an actor, and all actors, especially guys, there’s something about us that wants to play the bada**. Nobody had given him that opportunity.”

“I’ve had the opportunity to do it a few times, to be in great adventure stories and shoot lots of people, and run from things with big teeth. Those are the kinds of movies you went to see when you were a kid, and everybody, I don’t care who you are, wants to be James Bond, or somebody like him, or the villain in a Bond movie.”

Jackson is full of praise, too, for his younger co-stars, Taron Egerton and Sofia Boutella, who are both at the beginning of promising careers and catching a huge break with key roles in Kingsman.

Egerton plays Eggsy, Hart’s young protégé, the son of a former colleague who died saving his life. And Ms Boutella, a former dancer, is Valentine’s assistant – or should we say henchwoman - Gazelle, a super smart double amputee with deadly running blades that she uses to lethal effect.

“You know, you hire whoever can do the job. Sofia is a wonderful dancer, and she has wonderful movement. She’s very athletic, so it works for her,” he says.

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