With just a precious few days left in which to overhype Snakes on a Plane before its release next Friday, New Line gave Samuel L. Jackson a break from reading scripts for pre-recorded, semi-personalized Snakes on a Voicemail™ promotions ("Hello...JACK. My good friend...STACEY...tells me that you'd like to take some time away from your job as an...ACTUARY...to go see my new movie, in theaters August 18th!") to spend some time going over his Snakes-related anecdotes with a reporter from Time. We've selected one in which Jackson claims to prepare just as thoroughly for his The Man-level work as he does for the more challenging roles he takes to momentarily drown out the sound of the cash register cha-ching he hears each time he's offered a part in well-paying, "exuberant crap":
After Pulp Fiction made him famous in his mid-40s, Jackson settled into his current rhythm of mixing prestige projects with what might fondly be called exuberant crap. For both, his preparation is obsessive. He writes out full character biographies—"Educational background, who his parents were, what he did, where he came from, what kinds of friends he has," says Jackson—then memorizes everything and inserts notes into the script to mark the spots where he plans tiny, barometric moments of character revelation. "Doesn't matter if it's Sphere or Shakespeare," he says. "Acting is craft, and everybody's got to bring it if you don't want your movie to be a piece of s____."
We can only imagine the character bio Jackson compiled to help get ready for the Method rigors of his Snakes on a Plane role:
Educational background: Four years at Fucking Up Some Motherfucking Snakes University; graduated summa cum laude, major concentration in reptile extermination arts, minor in commercial aviation hospitality
Parents: Devoured by pythons
Occupation: Fucker-upper of motherfucking snakes, motherfucker
Friends: Also devoured by pythons
We'll spare you the description of how Jackson had the studio build him a replica airline cabin in his garage, where he would spend three to four hours a day brushing an assortment of rubber cobras and rattlesnakes off the laps of imperiled mannequin "passengers." Rest assured, Samuel L. showed up to set ready to tackle any acting challenge thrown his way.