Samuel L. Jackson and Kurt Russell Talk 'The Hateful Eight'

16/01/2016 6:30 AM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST
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Samuel L. Jackson is the coolest motherfucker on the planet.

It's the mantra I've been repeating to myself all week as I prepared to speak with Jackson and Kurt Russell, stars of Quentin Tarantino's latest bizarre bloodbath, the Civil War-era 'The Hateful Eight.' It's the mantra I could not get out of my head as I sat in the Sydney premiere of the film on Wednesday night as Jackson's character, the Union army major turned bounty hunter Marquis Warren, stole the show once more. They were the words I kept in mind as I wrote questions to ask the pair during our allotted nine-minute speed-date of an interview; the words I tried to put out of my mind as I worked to keep my cool as walked into the hotel function room where our interview would take place; and the words that couldn't help but fill my brain as soon I properly laid my eyes on the man for the first time.

With a black flatcap sitting askew on his head and chunky, transparent plastic glasses, Jackson's ensemble could have stepped from the pages of the latest General Pants or H&M catalogue. He's clutching an enormous silver vaporiser pipe in his hand as I enter, puffing a huge cloud of smoke as I round the corner and the publicist introduces me: "guys, this is Josh, from the Huffington Post Aust--"

"Huffington Post? THE Huffington Post?" Jackson interjects, a smile on his face. He's sitting on a chair in front of a 'Hateful Eight' backdrop, Russell next to him in a black collared shirt and sneakers. They both shake my hand warmly and firmly.

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We small-talk about Huffington Post co-founder and editor-in-chief Arianna Huffington and the organisational and editorial structure of HuffPost Australia (seriously) for a few minutes as the camera guy gets ready to tape, and I'm struck again by the same thought:

Samuel L. Jackson is the coolest motherfucker on the planet.

Russell, the star of his own share of cult films in 'Escape From New York' and 'Big Trouble In Little China' and his own Tarantino pedigree of 'Death Proof,' is a lovely human. Dressed comfortably, he's warm and receptive and refreshingly open as he talks about his latest film outing, the shooting process and 'The Hateful Eight's much-vaunted projection on widescreen 70mm film... but no offence to Russell, who was as lovely a person as I've ever interviewed, I only had eyes for Jackson.

He's the surly computer guy in 'Jurassic Park,' he's the prickly Zeus Carver in 'Die Hard With A Vengeance'; Mace Windu in the 'Star Wars' prequels, he's Shaft in 'Shaft,' Augustus Gibbons in 'xXx' and Coach Carter in 'Coach Carter'; and of course he's Jules Winnfield, Ordell Robbie and many more in the Tarantino filmography, where he has now appeared in an astonishing six of Quentin's eight movies.

Many actors brag about the "transformation" and the "process" they undertook to "become" their on-screen characters. Speaking to Jackson in person, you get the feeling he just turns up on set on the first day of shooting, goes into hair and make-up and costume, then walks in front of the camera and starts speaking. His voice, tone, mannerisms are all the same on-screen as off -- the famous exasperated and incredulous tone that has made a hundred lines into instant catchphrases, the quick wit and sharp tongue and wicked sense of humour is all there, so much so that I feel like I'm talking to Zeus Carter or Jules Winnifeld or surly computer guy. He's the sort of guy you'd pay money to sit in a room and just talk at you on any topic he wants to; the sort of guy who would have the best stories in the world.

The interview is over in a flash then I'm on the way out. I don't see it, but I'm sure Jackson pulls his vape pipe back out from under the table. Why, you may ask?

Because Samuel L. Jackson is the coolest motherfucker on the planet.

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