Samuel L. Jackson’s sitting in a posh hotel room across the street from San Diego’s Comic-Con International, just a few hours away from taking the Hall H stage with Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson and the rest of the Captain America: The Winter Soldier team to unveil new footage. He’s frequently craning his neck out the window to keep checking out the parade of superheroic, otherworldly and undead characters that parade by on the street below, and at one point, the cinematic spymaster of S.H.I.E.L.D. just can’t resist leaning way out on the balcony, just to see if anyone notices that Nick Fury’s in the house.
Then he kicks back and sheds a little more light on his future in the legendary Marvel universe – and maybe a return to a galaxy far, far away.
Fandango: Nick Fury started off as a mystery in the films up to The Avengers, and then in Avengers, you got to see who this guy really is. What's been fun about that slow reveal and exciting to learn about who Nick Fury is?
Samuel L. Jackson: Well, the fact that he evolved from a soldier of sorts into the modern world, then into the shadow world of S.H.I.E.L.D. and high espionage. It's intergalactic spy games. It's crazy!
Fandango: In Captain America 2, we’ll see more definition of the relationship between Captain America and Fury – which may have some rough edges.
Jackson: Well, it's interesting that the thing that works now is the fact that when we first saw Cap, when he thawed, he had to deal with whatever was going on in his mind. Then in The Avengers, all of a sudden, he was in this new world, kind of confused by it all. But there's an attacker, and he's a soldier, so we treat him like a bullet. We aimed him at something and fired, and he went straight at it. He knew who the enemy was.
Now, in this particular film, he's in his own place. He's kind of post-Avengers in that big fight with the intergalactic enemy. Now he's trying to figure out who the enemy is now, and what's going on with S.H.I.E.L.D. – and what exactly is S.H.I.E.L.D., this organization that he's part of? And who is the enemy and how is the enemy some of the people he used to fight? They now are allies and how does that work? And what manner of trust do we have with those people and how do we deal with them? And Nick being the shadow character that he is, it's hard to tell when he's telling the truth. So Cap's trying to sift through what Nick says and what he does to get to the truth.
Fandango: As each new movie comes along and the universe expands, do you see Fury as always being sort of that peripheral character? Do you envision a time where you get to play the lead in the Nick Fury S.H.I.E.L.D. movie?
Jackson: I ALWAYS feel like I'm playing the lead in a Nick Fury movie! [Laughs] I actually thought Avengers was a Nick Fury movie. This one has the same overtones. He's not as peripheral as we'd like to think, and he's as manipulative as he always is.
Fandango: It was almost a throwaway gag when they decided to redesign the Nick Fury character in The Ultimates comic book to visually look like you. That was done in fun, and you went along with it, and then you actually get the gig on the big screen. Did you think it was cool when you first heard about it?
Jackson: Well, once I found out they were going to make a movie, and they wanted to use my face in the comic book, it was kind of like, "Okay – fine!"
Fandango: You've had so many dream roles, especially in movies made for the people who come to Comic-Con. Did you set out to make it happen, or did everything just work out in your favor?
Jackson: Well, things just kind of happened right. It was karmically in a particular space. I didn't realize when I was on this talk show in London when they asked me if there were any directors I wanted to work with, and I said, "Well, they're doing Star Wars again. I would love to work with George Lucas" because I want to be in Star Wars. I was even willing to be a storm trooper. Nobody even needs to know I'm in it but me. And it worked out another kind of way.
When something like Snakes on a Plane comes by, I go, I'd love to be in this kind of movie. So it just so happened that a friend of mine was directing it. Eventually he got fired, and [replaced by] David Ellis who was a friend of mine. So things just happen like that, and it's not a plan. It's just part of me enjoying myself and wanting to tell a particular kind of story because, when I was a kid, I loved going to the movies and watching certain kinds of stories.
Fandango: Is there a kind of movie that you haven't done that you want to put on record and see what happens?
Jackson: Well, I still want to do a real, really great Western. I mean, Django Unchained's good, but I didn't get to ride a horse, and I didn't get to shoot a gun. So it wasn't MY Western, even though I had a great time doing it when I did it.
Fandango: Do you think you'll make an appearance on Joss Whedon's S.H.I.E.L.D. TV show?
Jackson: Not really.
Fandango: He'll save you for the films only?
Jackson: I don't know. That's Marvel's choice, and Joss's choice, because I have voiced even to him – it's like, "Well, can I be like Charlie in Charlie's Angels? Just give them an assignment every now and then?" He gave me that look that he gives me. "That's an idea." No confirmation on that.
Fandango: What's been the best side benefit of being part of this Marvel rocket ride?
Jackson: The characters in the movies and the friendships that I made doing it. We are like a big ol’ Marvel family. You all come together, and you go, "What are we going to play today? Well, let's play Avengers! I'll be so-and-so, you'll be so-and-so…" And then you get together and you do it and you have so much fun. It's an amazing, wonderful, joyous kind of world that allows you to hold on to some part of your childhood and makes you feel young all the time.
Fandango: How much ownership do you have over Fury? Do you get a say in how he's developed? In what direction he goes?
Jackson: No. None. They send me a script. I read it and go, I can make it work.
Fandango: With new Star Wars movies ahead, if they had the right opportunity for you, would you figure out a way to be in that too?
Jackson: The right opportunity? ANY opportunity for me! I'll show up and be a one-handed hologram, like Obi-Wan Kenobi. I actually think that for a lot of the Star Wars fans, it would be great to have several of the characters from whatever, the originals or the prequels, were to be in it so that the entree of new characters for old fans is easier.