Samuel L. Jackson is getting honest about his prior struggles with drug addiction in a new interview.
Through the ‘80s and ‘90s, Jackson was addicted to crack cocaine, though he somehow managed to keep working and stay useful. While speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, the 70-year-old actor recalls smoking crack while working as an understudy on Broadway in August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson. He was observing Charles Dutton, who played the lead and enraged Jackson with his performances.
“I had to sit there every night on the steps behind the theater and listen to Charles Dutton do that part,” he explains. “I’d sit there and smoke crack while I listened to the play. It made me fucking crazy. Because I’d be listening to him doing the lines and going, ‘That’s not right!'”
Jackson also recalls another night when was smoking crack and spotted another actor he greatly admired — Jessica Lange. She was taking a smoke break while working on A Streetcar Named Desire. Just a few years later, the pair were co-starring in Losing Isaiah.
“We would smoke cigarettes together in the rain under this awning where we were shooting in Chicago,” Jackson shares. “It was fun. But I never said, ‘Hey Jessica, I used to watch you while smoking crack’ or nothing.”
Jackson hit rock bottom when his wife and daughter discovered him facedown on the kitchen one day. They maintained he go to rehab and he agreed. Though, while sobering up, he was sent a script from Spike Lee. The already famous director wanted Jackson to act as a crack addict in his next film, Jungle Fever, which he did. Ironically, it was his first sober role.
“All the people in rehab were trying to talk me out of it,” he says. ” ‘You’re going to be messing around with crack pipes. All your triggers will be there. Blah, blah, blah.’ I was like, ‘You know what? If for no other reason than I never want to see you motherf**kers again, I will never pick up another drug.’ ‘Cause I hated their a**es.”
Jackson also recalls auditioning with a “horrible” actor for a role in an indie film called Reservoir Dogs. It turned out that allegedly dreadful actor was Quentin Tarantino, the film’s director. Jackson was in the audience at the Sundance premiere of the film, where he decided to talk to Tarantino again.
“I was thinking, ‘Well, good movie,’ he tells THR. “Then I realized that dude who I read with was the director! So I go over to him and tell him how much I liked the movie but how it would’ve been a better movie with me in it. So he said, ‘Well, I’m writing something right now for you.’ I was like, ‘Really? You remember me that well?’ And then about two weeks later, Pulp Fiction came.”
That’s when he shared being so thunderstruck by the script, he read it twice.
“I vividly remember getting to the end of it and being like, ‘Wow. Get the fuck outta here,’” he says. “‘Is this shit that good or am I just thinking, because he wrote it for me, I think it’s that good?’ So boom, I flipped it over and read it through again.”