Samuel L. Jackson Wonders What Get Out Would Have Been Like With ‘an American Brother’ as Lead

Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SiriusXM
Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SiriusXM

Samuel L. Jackson has some thoughts about black British actors securing American roles instead of African Americans, suggesting that perhaps black Americans could add some authenticity, especially when dealing with culturally specific things like America’s struggles with interracial relationships.

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During an interview Monday with Hot 97 while promoting his newest film, Kong: Skull Island, Jackson cited films such as the most recent crowd fave, Get Out, which features British actor Daniel Kaluuya as a black American going to visit his white girlfriend, only to find some insidious racist, scary crap going down (still trying not to give any spoilers, although I suspect everyone has seen it by now).

At any rate, Jackson seemingly questioned how much more authentic the film would have been if a black American had been able to play Kaluuya’s role.

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“I know the young brother who’s in the movie, and he’s British,” Jackson said. “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 … what would a brother from America have made of that role? I’m sure the director helped. Some things are universal, but everything ain’t.”

When probed further about the phenomenon of black British actors playing African Americans, Jackson mused: “They 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.

Jackson went on to add: “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.”

British actor John Boyega, who famously played Finn in Star Wars: Episode VII—The Force Awakens, jumped in on Twitter, tweeting that “black brits vs African American” was a “stupid ass conflict” that nobody has time for.

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Jackson later came back to defend his commentary, but insisted that “it was not a slam against [black British actors].”

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“It was just a comment about how Hollywood works in an interesting sort of way sometimes,” he clarified to the Associated Press. “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.”

What do you think? Does Jackson have a point or are you more along Boyega’s line of thinking?

News Editor at The Root, animation nerd, soca junkie, yogi

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DISCUSSION

lollypoplips
Kyo Soma A.

I’ve loved Daniel since he was Posh Kenneth on Skins. So I had no problem whatsoever with the lead role. A ton of talent has come from Skins 1st and 2nd season (UK) version. Although, I see a side to what Jackson is saying. There is still a disconnect with Hollywood and Black American actors. Many people on John’s tweet stated maybe Black Americans need to step up their game. Which is not the point. It’s what Viola said, the opportunity is what’s important. When the opportunity isn’t there nothing moves, nothing progresses.

Most White Americans working in the film industry money side and some creative (casting, directors, producers, ect.) enjoy casting Black British actors. Usually, and this is a personal opinion, they do not “sound Ameican black”. They vocally sound intelligent, alluring, & different. However, what Jackson doesn’t seem to realize is that just because the UK shut down slavery before America, doesn’t mean that the racism isn’t there and at full force. It is. Along with their problems of diversity within their cinema on screen and off. Black Americans and British Americans do have a different wavelength of racial history. We should discuss topics like this. It’s something to recognize, understand, and find ways to use this to our advantage. Upon learning and growing from this topic it can be a better means to break open doors to showcase more diversity within mainstream and independent media.