Samuel L. Jackson Defends His Questioning of Black British Actors Playing American Roles

Samuel L. Jackson visits the SiriusXM Studios on March 6, 2017, in New York City.  Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images

After facing backlash, Samuel L. Jackson defended his questioning of black British actors playing American roles. The Kong: Skull Island star, 68, offered clarification to the Associated Press on Wednesday, March 8. “It was not a slam against them,” he said. “But it was just a comment about how Hollywood works in an interesting sort of way sometimes.”

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Jackson added: “We’re not afforded that same luxury, but that’s fine, we have plenty of opportunities to work … I enjoy their work … I enjoy working with them when I have the opportunity to do that.”

The Snakes on a Plane star received flak for comments he made during a Monday, March 6, radio interview with New York City’s Hot 97. While discussing this year’s buzzy horror film Get Out — about an African American photographer (played by U.K. native Daniel Kaluuya) who has a white girlfriend — Jackson suggested that he thinks the role should have been given to a U.S. actor.

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“I think it’s great that movie’s doing everything it’s doing, and people are loving it. But … I know the young brother who’s in the movie, and he’s British,” he said. “I tend to wonder what that movie would have been with an American brother who really feels that.”

The Oscar-nominated actor went on to say that an African American actor would have been able to relate more to the character. “Daniel grew up in a country where they’ve been interracial dating for 100 years,” he added. “What would a brother from America have made of that role? Some things are universal, but [not everything is].”

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John Boyega — a black actor from the U.K. who starred in 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens — took to Twitter on Wednesday to criticize Jackson’s remarks. “Black brits vs African American,” he wrote. “A stupid ass conflict we don’t have time for.”

During his Hot 97 interview, Jackson joked that black American actors’ British counterparts are taking their jobs because “they’re cheaper than us, for a start,” before adding, “And [directors] think they’re better than us because they’re classically trained.”

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