- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 29, 2002

SAN RAFAEL, Calif. — Forget Jedi mind tricks. Samuel L. Jackson just wanted to try some Jedi butt kicks.
Known for playing fury-filled characters in films such as "Pulp Fiction" and "Shaft," Mr. Jackson gets to unleash some deep-space mayhem with a light saber in "Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones."
Years ago, Mr. Jackson told "Star Wars" creator George Lucas he would happily play a character as anonymous as "Storm Trooper No. 8" if it meant getting into one of the science-fiction epics.
"I said, 'I really don't care I'll put the helmet on. Nobody needs to know I'm in this movie but me,'" the 53-year-old actor recalls.
Instead, Mr. Lucas chose him to play Mace Windu, the contemplative senior member of the Jedi Council who shares decision-making power with Yoda.
"You can't come up with anything better than that," Mr. Jackson says.
"Can you imagine asking, 'Uh, could I be the second-most-important Jedi in the film?'"
"Attack of the Clones" comes amid one of Mr. Jackson's busiest years.
He co-stars with Ben Affleck as a chaos-causing motorist in the revenge drama "Changing Lanes" and plays a mysterious agent in the extreme spy adventure "XXX," coming in August.
After playing mostly bit parts, Mr. Jackson made his breakthrough with his Oscar-nominated performance in 1994's "Pulp Fiction" as hit man Jules Winnfield, who dispatched his targets with a bullet and a Bible quote.
Since then, he has played a host of irate, volatile characters, including the bug-eyed villain of "Unbreakable," the ponytailed killer jokester in "Jackie Brown" and the mistrustful Harlem electrician Zeus in "Die Hard: With a Vengeance."
Q: You've played a lot of violent, ranting characters. What's the closest you've ever come to that kind of behavior?
A:
I actually tend to go hot pretty quickly. Most times, it's in a work situation when I know I'm right about something and the director is kind of being hardheaded and not very smart about what's going on.
You try to be diplomatic; but then you reach a point where you just say, "This is just stupid."
Q: Is there any of that in Mace Windu?
A:
Mace doesn't run hot; he doesn't run cold. He kind of runs even, but there's something behind his eyes that lets you know that he does have an opinion and he's not as detached as the average Jedi might be.
Q: What advice do you have for other performers trying to get colorblind parts?
A:
I'd say, "Why am I not auditioning for this?" They would tell me, "Well, Sam, it doesn't say they want a black actor." I said, "Well, it doesn't say they don't." Unless it says in the script, "This character is not black," then you should be able to go in the room and read for that character.
Q: Is it true that you begin creating characters based on their hairstyles?
A:
I always have my makeup artist and hairstylist read the script, and between the three of us, we figure out his hairstyle and look.
Hopefully, directors are open to that because we do that independently of even talking to them.
Any director who hires me should know from my history that I'm going to come with a certain style.
Q: What's next for you in "Episode III"?
A:
They kill all the Jedi, so I know I'm dead. Other than that, I don't have a clue about the story.
George just says, "It's dark." Dark is cool.


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