When Samuel L. Jackson tried to explain how David R. Ellis came to replace original Snakes on a Plane director Ronny Yu on on The Daily Show before the film's release, he cited Yu's insistence on doing an over-the-top, Hong Kong-inspired version as the reason he left the project. But as it turns out, Yu's ideas on who should be the real star of the movie, its expletive-loving, cobra-strangling hero, or its cabin full of fake-titty-biting reptiles, didn't fly with the studio paying Jackson surviving-to-the-final-credits money. Says The Slug:
"If you put Samuel L. Jackson in it, and you have snakes on a plane, who is the star of the show? Is it Samuel L. Jackson, or is it the snake? If you want Samuel L. Jackson to be the hero, then the snakes weren't that important, because you knew at the end Samuel L. Jackson would save the day."
His big UNLESS: "If I'm allowed the creative freedom, then I'll do it a little differently with Samuel L. Jackson. I'll make him more of a surprise for the audience. ... He can be a cool guy, but kill off the cool guy, so people hate those snakes. Rather than have the normal hero come save the day, I think the audience wants to see something a little bit different, unpredictable. Of course, working with a studio you have to follow what they set down, what their rules are."
In the end, New Line found the right guy for the job, one who was secure enough in his craft to let some excited bloggers suggest reshoots and who understood that American test audiences would probably bitch if the guy who gets to say "motherfucker" the most didn't outlive some rubber snakes.