When it comes to range, we all know Samuel L. Jackson has it. But in his latest role, the actor deemed “Hollywood’s Most Bankable Star” still manages to play a character unlike any we’ve seen from him before.
Jackson stars as an elderly man with dementia battling not only the loss of memories but also loved ones in ‘The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey,‘ debuting on AppleTV+ today. In an early episode of the series, Grey, played by Jackson, has a flashback to the moment his father told him as a child: “A man is all he remembers.” But while that might’ve been that character’s belief system, Jackson sees things a bit differently.
“It’s not that all a man is is what he remembers; all a man is is what people remember about that man,” he tells ESSENCE. “He can have one opinion of himself, but it’s all about how you affected the world. There are numerous statements about how a person needs to leave their mark to say they’ve lived a life worthwhile. I think I’ve done that and I think Ptolemy did that, but he also knew he was tasked with something he hadn’t done. And even in the midst of that fog that he was in, he was still trying to figure out what that thing was.”
Jackson, 73, appears far older in the project, with his normally clean shaven head and face covered in gray hair and wrinkles he’s yet to experience himself. Yet stepping into the shoes of an older man has left the veteran thespian with a message he hopes audiences will glean from his latest project. “I’d like for them to take away the fact that old people have a lot to give us. I think that’s something that’s kind of been lost over a period of time,” Jackson says.
“Youth drives so much of what we do that we’ve forgotten how to talk to old people, look at them and understand that they didn’t get old by accident. That they live, they breathe, they see, and all of the experiences they have might explain some of the things we find difficult to explain right now.”
Watch our full interview with Samuel L. Jackson in the video above.