Samuel L. Jackson’s a man of many hats: actor, philanthropist, and on occasion, opinionated public intellectual. (He’s also a man of many hats in a more literal sense, owning what I estimate must be upwards of 800 Kangols.) He‘s currently working the press circuit in promotion of his latest picture, the big-budget monster mash Kong: Skull Island, and no Samuel L. Jackson press tour is complete without one or two headline-grabbing soundbites. We thought we had hit the jackpot when Jackson happily admitted to a familiarity with the anime pornography known as ‘hentai,’ but the actor’s buzz-baiting statements were far from over.
Jackson recently sat down for an interview on beloved New York radio station Hot 97 to hype Kong, and ended up giving his thoughts on a new sort of British invasion. Specifically, Jackson’s got beef with how many actors of color have crossed the Atlantic to snatch up domestic roles from African-American performers. While he stated that he enjoyed Jordan Peele’s Get Out, he was disappointed to see the lead role go to Englishman Daniel Kaluuya:
I know the young brother who’s in the movie, and he’s British. There are a lot of black British actors that work in this country. All the time. I tend to wonder what would that movie have been with an American brother who really understands that in a way. Because Daniel grew up in a country where they’ve been interracial dating for a hundred years. Britain, there’s only about eight real white people left in Britain… So what would a brother from America made of that role? I’m sure the director helped. Some things are universal, but everything ain’t.
[British actors] don’t cost as much. Unless you’re an unknown brother that they’re finding somewhere. They think they’re better trained, for some reason, than we are because they’re classically trained. I don’t know what the love affair is with all that. It’s all good. Everybody needs to work, but there are a lot of brothers here that need to work too. They come here because there are more opportunities, and they actually get paid when they work here. Which is fine.
He went on to call out David Oyelowo, another English thespian who took the role of Martin Luther King in Ava DuVernay‘s Selma. The validity of his words has already been put up for debate, with John Boyega (another actor of color hailing from our neighbors across the pond) speaking out against Jackson’s sentiments on Twitter.
Fiery words on both sides, but who’s in the right? That’s up for the public to decide.