Samuel L. Jackson is a motherf**ker. Hell, he’d say so himself. After all, the actor has spent decades in Hollywood carving out a niche for himself as the industry’s go-to tough-talking bad-ass dude. And that’s precisely why we fell in love with him in classics like Pulp Fiction, and cheered him on when he actually agreed to star as a parody of himself in Snakes on a Plane. There’s not an f-bomb he won’t drop; a line he won’t sell with expletive-fueled force. He even managed to eke the b-word (“butt,” of course) into the family-friendly Jurassic Park.
And he continued to prove he’s worth all this praise during his Oscar-worthy performance in Quentin Tarantino‘s Django Unchained. (Golden Globes snub be damned.) Jackson melts into his role as Stephen, becoming almost unrecognizable as the heartless and loyal slave of Leonardo DiCaprio‘s Calvin Candie, if not for that patented penchant for blue vocabulary.
But, strangely enough, in recent weeks, Jackson has become unrecognizable off-screen as well. The actor who charmed audiences in fare like The Avengers has become unchained during Django‘s press tour, finding himself at the top of entertainment news sites for his bizarre behavior. First, Jackson appeared on Saturday Night Live and dropped a disputed f-bomb (which the actor denied), followed by an undisputed “bulls**t” (which the actor admitted to). Then, following the incident, Jackson stopped by Jimmy Kimmel LIVE! and blamed sketch co-star Kenan Thompson: “He was supposed to cut me off,” Jackson said. “I’m used to working with professionals that know their lines, even the ones that are written on cue cards in front of you.” (See the interview embedded below.)
And then there’s the latest interview from Jackson’s Django promo tour to make the Internet rounds: During a sit-down with Jake’s Takes Jake Hamilton, Jackson encouraged the Caucasian journalist to use the n-word after Hamilton asked about the controversy surrounding the rampant use of the derogatory label in Tarantino’s film. Hamilton refused several times before Jackson chided Hamilton for his query, “It wasn’t a great question if you can’t say the word.” See the interview below (Jackson’s interview starts at about 13:50):
While a salient societal discussion surrounding the word is certainly pertinent, conversation on the Web largely sympathizes with the blindsided Hamilton, causing Jackson to lose some goodwill and fans. But, of course, Jackson’s mere presence in dozens of headlines only further ingrains Django in our heads. So is Jackson’s behavior good for Django publicity? Possibly. But is it good for Jackson? If you read Internet chatter surrounding Jackson’s n-word stunt (some feel Hamilton should have yielded to the actor’s request in order to push the sensitive conversation), jury’s still out.
So perhaps it’s time Jackson returned to his status as Hollywood’s most likable motherf**ker. Perhaps it’s time the unchained actor adds a little restraint to his repertoire. Perhaps it’s time to move the motherf**king bizarre behavior off the motherf**king publicity circuit. Then, perhaps conversation will shift back to the film and fans can begin to hold onto their butts for a deserved Oscar nomination.