UPDATE, 12:30 PM: Samuel L. Jackson is clarifying comments he made earlier this week about the casting of British black actors in U.S. films that deal with race relations. He says he was criticizing the Hollywood system in general, rather than other actors. “It was not a slam against them, but it was just a comment about how Hollywood works in an interesting sort of way sometimes,” Jackson told The Associated Press.
“We’re not afforded that same luxury, but that’s fine, we have plenty of opportunities to work,” he added. “I enjoy their work,” Jackson said of the Brit actors. “I enjoy working with them when I have the opportunity to do that.”
PREVIOUS, March 8, 4:45 PM: Samuel L. Jackson has issues with British actors taking African-American roles, criticizing casting decision made in recent films like Get Out.
In an interview with New York radio station Hot 97 to promote Kong: Skull Island, Jackson questioned why British actor Daniel Kaluuya was cast as the lead in Jordan Peele’s horror film that tackles race in the U.S., and wondered why an African-American didn’t get the part.
“I know the young brother who’s in the movie, and he’s British,” Jackson expressed in the video above. “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.”
Jackson continued by also pointing out how Ava DuVernay’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. film Selma starred David Oyelowo, and how “some brothers in America could have been in that movie who would have had a different idea about how King thinks or how King felt.”
When asked why he thinks that British black actors get cast more in American roles, he added that “they’re cheaper than us for one thing.”
“They don’t cost as much. Unless you’re an unknown brother that they’re finding somewhere,” he replied. “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.”
Get Out director Peele had previously touched on the subject of casting a British actor for the role. He told the Observer that, once he wrapped his head around how universal the themes were, it became easy for him to cast Kaluuya. “Because at the end of the day, he was the best person for the role. He did the audition and it was a slam dunk,” he noted.
Jackson, who is vocal on Twitter, has not made any further comments regarding the interview. Though British Star Wars: The Force Awakens actor John Boyega tweeted out that Jackson’s comment is a “conflict we don’t have time for.”