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SUBJECT: Lakeview Terrace

Samuel L Jackson as Abel Turner During his eclectic acting career, Samuel L Jackson has starred in such diverse movies as Jungle Fever, Pulp Fiction, Resurrecting the Champ, The Negotiator, A Time to Kill, The Incredibles, Snakes on a Plane and the Star Wars trilogy.

In his newest offering, Lakeview Terrace, he portrays Abel Turner, a stern, single father who also happens to be a LAPD officer. With strong opinions heís not shy to express, when an inter-racial couple, Chris and Lisa Mattson (Patrick Wilson and Kerry Washington) move next door to him, the disapproving Turner makes their lives a living nightmare, until one day they decide to fight back. We sat down and spoke with Jackson about his intriguing new character.

Q: Do you consider Abel Turner a bad man?:
Patrick Wilson and Samuel L JacksonA: Abel says whatís on his mind. He has a real opinion about how he wants the world to be and what he thinks should be going on around him and in his neighborhood. He has a definite idea about how he wants to raise his kids. What he wants them to be influenced by and heís not afraid to express that opinion and heís not afraid to do things to make the world his way.

Q: So heís not a villain?
A: I donít know if heís a villain. I guarantee there will be a couple of people sitting there watching the movie who will go, ĎOkay, I get that. Iím with him.í

Q: How much input did you have in the script and this character?:
Director Neil LaBute, Samuel L JacksonA: I guess in the early versions of the script he was just and out-and-out bully kind of guy, kind of a crazed guy. Neil [LaBute, the director] and I talked about it. I wanted audiences to actually have a chance to make a choice between do you want to be on this guyís side? Is it okay if [Chris Mattson] smokes and throws his cigarettes in Abelís backyard, or is it okay for [Chris and Lisa] to make love in their pool when they know there are kids next door who may or may not see them? Is it okay for [Abelís] friends to look down on him because heís a cop? So there are all these questions about who he is and what he does. He has a moral compass, it just kind of goes another way.

Q: Were you familiar with Neil LaButeís work?
A: Iím familiar with his plays more than I know his movies.

Q: He usually has pretty misogynistic characters.
A: Misogynist to you? Okay guy for me. Itís a guy I might like to hang out with. Iím never concerned about stuff like that. I just look at the character and if I like him I start figuring out ways to make his point-of-view mine, or figure out a back story that allows me to get there and be in that place, and lets me be comfortable in it. I didnít care that much about what Neilís reputation was writing that stuff, because heís a very bright guy and open to suggestions so we worked on the dialogue, we worked on the characterís development.

Q: You used to say you liked playing cops and robbers in movies because it was like when you were a kid, except that they have special effects Ė:
Samuel L JacksonA: Yep. I donít know how many cops Iíve played; if you do enough movies youíre going to play cops a lot. A lot of the stories are about bad guys versus good guys. Iíve been trained by the LAPD, the SWAT team, Secret Service, FBI, CIA, Navy Seals, Marines, Army, Navy, so I have a lot of gun training and a lot of law enforcement training. Itís been kind of cool being able to do all that stuff, and fire live weapons and see if youíre able to use them, and watch police procedure and talk to cops about what they really do and what they really donít do.

Q: What do they do?
A: Take care of each other, protect and serve.

Q: You have a strenuous fight scene at the end of the movie Ė what was that like to shoot?
A: This is more an adult movie. Iím not shooting, running and jumping until right at the end. But itís kind of interesting because I had back surgery about three weeks before we started shooting. So the doctor kept telling me when I could actually do the big fight scene. It was kind of cool when I actually found out I could do it.

Written by Judy Sloane. Back to top

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Feature © 2008 Visual Imagination.
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Film Review, #699, August 2008 cover

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