EXCLUSIVE: Samuel L. Jackson is in talks to play the title role in the Screen Gems action comedy The Black Phantom, alongside Kevin Hart. Tim Story is directing the script by Dave Lease & Megan Hinds, and Will Packer and Will Gluck will produce. Jackson replaces Jamie Foxx, who was going to play the role but exited over scheduling conflicts. The film is an outrageously inappropriate comedy where no topic is off limits in an odd partnership formed between a clever double-crossed mob hitman (Hart) and the notorious hit man The Black Phantom, who has been hired to kill him. It’s a reuniting of Jackson with Screen Gems’ Clint Culpepper, for whom Jackson starred in Lakeview Terrace. It’s the first time Jackson and Hart will have worked together.
There are three actors I consider to be inevitable Oscar winners. Robert Downey Jr and Leonardo DiCaprio are two, and Jackson is the third. This doesn’t sound like the role that gets him there, but he follows by starring for Quentin Tarantino in The Hateful Eight early next year. Those who heard a staged reading for charity of the first draft of Tarantino’s script said that Jackson has a tour de force role. He somehow flew under the radar for his work alongside DiCaprio in Django Unchained even though the movie became way more interesting when he entered it, playing one of the most loathsome characters in recent memory; let’s not even get started on getting beaten by Ed Wood‘s Martin Landau for Jackson’s turn as Scripture-spouting hit man Jules Winnfield in Pulp Fiction. It would be most appropriate if Jackson finally raised his trophy in a film by Tarantino, who has provided so many signature lines for the actor. Jackson is by repped by ICM, Anonymous Content and his lawyers at Jackoway Tyerman.