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Samuel L. Jackson on Resurrecting the Champ

Published August 23, 2007 in Movie Interviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of Yari Film Group.
Samuel L. Jackson is so well known for his voice, people have demanded lines of dialogue in his films just so they could hear him say them. Yes, I'm one of them and I'm still obsessed with those motherf***in' snakes on that motherf***in' plane. Even a Sam fan like myself was impressed by his immersive performance in Resurrecting the Champ. Champ, an aged former boxer now living on the street, sounds nothing like the guy who screams, "Yes they deserve to die and I hope they burn in hell!"

Samuel L. Jackson on Resurrecting the Champ


"It's actually my grandfather's voice toward the end of his life," said Jackson. "He had this kind of high pitch whisper that would always make you kind of go, 'What'd you say?' So I kind of wanted to fold people in around me when I talk to them or make people pay attention to Champ in another kind of way so it makes you sit up and listen. It was kind of challenging to hold onto it the whole movie so it was something else to keep me focused in the character."

The modest Jackson does not acknowledge what a big deal it is for him to shake his distinctive characteristic. "The resonant tones of my voice? Yeah, right. [Laughs] It's not difficult. It's not often that I have an opportunity to do some of the things that I used to do on stage, so this was kind of like one of those. I'd look in the mirror and I don't see myself. And I can fix my body so I don’t' carry myself the way people always say I carry myself so regally or have this very distinctive walk. So I got rid of that and I figured I could get rid of my voice too so it was a very cool immersion for me."


Resurrecting the Champ Poster Resurrecting the Champ


Resurrecting the Champ Poster Resurrecting the Champ

The facial hair and dreadlocks also transform Jackson into Champ. "Every character, or every time I get a script that I think allows me to do specific things to change me physically, I always give it to my makeup artist and I always give it to my hairdresser. I let them independently say what they think he looks like and I tell them what I think he looks like. Al, my makeup artist, has created a program on his computer that just has my blank face on it. And he can put my blank face up on it and then we'll start going through magazines looking at hairstyles. We'll lift a hairstyle off a picture and put it on my head and we'll start putting stuff on my face, change the size of my knows or putting scars on my in different places. So this one, Al actually had a chance to wrinkle my skin. There's this rubberized stuff that they pulled my skin back every day. I reached the point where I could just go in there and go to sleep and they could do this stuff to me while I sleep. Three hours later I'd wake up and I'd be all pruny. Is this what I'm gonna look like later?"

Champ is based on a real life character, profiled in the magazine article by J.R. Moehringer. Jackson found out about it in a more roundabout way. "I was aware of the magazine article, yeah, but the rest of it, no. It's kind of amazing sometimes when you get involved with something, how you just start accidentally running into people. My wife was somewhere. She accidentally ran into some of Bob Satterfield's family. They were all going, 'Yeah, I had heard your husband's doing a movie about our brother, da da da da da.' She's like, 'What are you talking about?' Because she didn't know. We very seldom talk about what I'm going to do, amazingly. Most people find that kind of strange. 'So your wife doesn't know what movie you're doing next?' No, she doesn't pick scripts for me. She ran into them and she started talking to me about it and then she's run into other members of their family since then. I've run into some of them too. It was kind of great so they're all going to be probably at the premiere."

Resurrecting the Champ opens to theaters August 24th.

For the trailer, poster and more movie info, go to the Resurrecting the Champ Movie Page.

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Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of Yari Film Group.
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